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A Caucus Unlike Any Other

By TJHalva | 1 point | February 28, 2016 at 7:07:01 PM CT 0 Comments

In two days, on Super Tuesday, Colorado and Minnesota will caucus to express their presidential preference. In the Democratic nomination process, 14 states utilize a caucus, Minnesota does too, but theirs is completely different from the rest; it’s actually closer to a primary.

In Minnesota, voting starts at 6:30 PM CT, and extends to 8:00 PM CT. You can vote any time within that period; if you’re in line by 8:00 PM CT you will get to vote as well. In the context of a caucus, vote generally means standing in the corner of a room for 2 hours; not in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, you will check-in with your precinct and certify that you are eligible to participate; the criteria is below:

I affirm the following are correct statements:

  1. I currently reside in the precinct.
  2. I will be age 18 or older and will be eligible to vote by November 8, 2016.
    (Note: youth participant exception must be marked on caucus registration form)
  3. I consider myself a member of the DFL Party. I am not an active member of any other political party.
  4. I agree with the principles of the DFL Party as stated in the DFL Constitution and Bylaws.
  5. Source: Registration Form Cover Sheet [1]

The criteria is carefully crafted and rooted in the party’s farming tradition, the F in DFL, which has historically included migrant workers. There is no official registration or eligibility verification in an effort to dissuade the fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement stings in out-state areas. A process does exist to remedy ineligible voters; any member of a precinct may challenge the eligibility, based on the four criteria above for any other voter participating in their precinct. The final eligibility is then put to a majority vote of voters present during the caucus.

Assuming a voter is eligible, after checking in they will be given a colored ballot with 5 candidates to select from; Bernie, Hillary, O’Malley, Rocky and Uncommitted. The ballot is colored in an attempt to preempt illegal voting. As a voter, you literally make your selection, and place it in the ballot box. There is generally a ballot box for each candidate to ease counting later. At this point, a voter has participated, their vote will be counted and they may leave or stay for other party business including delegate selection.

At the actual caucus meeting, which starts at 7:30 PM CT, several positions will be elected to non-partisan positions to facilitate the actual meeting. As part of this process, a teller for each candidate will be selected to oversee the actual counting of ballots; there is nothing official that requires a teller from each candidate, but the intent is to have adversarial oversight.

Once these positions are filled, delegates will be selected followed by other party business. The delegate selection is of little consequence in Minnesota as the eventual allocation is predicated on the popular vote in each of Minnesota’s 8 congressional districts and statewide total. Anybody may nominate themselves as a delegate; there are a number of rules for formalizing the selection depending on the number of candidates. The walking subcaucus is the most complex.

It is left up to each caucus to determine the procedure and for the actual counting; it can either be done incrementally or all at the end for example. The counting is done publicly; each campaign is permitted to have a formal representative oversee the count in addition to the teller. When the vote tally is complete, it is signed off by the chair, the tellers and each campaign’s representative before being reported to the state party which then unofficially reports the results to the Secretary of State.

The official results sheet, along with all of the ballots are then gathered, saved and submitted to the state party. A recount may be requested within 48 hours.

There will be 77 delegates bound to the caucus’s outcome; this table is common among all states, but the allocation method is determined by each state party:

Total DelegatesDistrict DelegatesDistrictsAt-Large DelegatesPledged PLEO DelegatesUnpledged PLEO Delegates
Minnesota [2]93508171016

In Minnesota, everything is tied to the popular vote. Each district will allocate delegates in proportion to the vote, on caucus night, in their precinct. The 11 at-large delegates, and the 10 Pledged Party Officials will be nominated based upon the overall statewide popular vote.

There have been just 2 polls conducted in Minnesota, with the last conducted in late January. Both showed Hillary with a demanding lead, but the general expectation statewide is that Bernie will do well and carry the state.


Retrieved on February 28, 2016 at 7:09:28 PM CT | Revision: 1


Retrieved on February 28, 2016 at 7:09:51 PM CT | Revision: 1

TAGS: mncaucus, minnesota

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