Caucuses: The grassroots of the political process

Everyone has the chance to take part in choosing delegates, discussing resolutions

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor 

Precinct caucuses, set for Tuesday, give voters the opportunity to take part in politics at its first level, known as the “grassroots” level.

During the caucus process delegates for the county’s party are chosen, platform issues are discussed and a straw poll taken.

Results of a straw poll give parties a basic idea of who the party will support in some statewide races.

This year, a straw poll will be taken for the governor’s race and U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s seat. Both Franken and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton plan to seek re-election.

Parties will endorse candidates at a later convention.

Precinct officers, who will coordinate the political meetings, assist with campaigns and lead local party efforts, are elected during the caucuses.

Delegates to political conventions are elected during the caucus process, as well. Those elected will attend either district or county conventions. There, delegates will be elected to go to state and congressional conventions. They will then in turn elect delegates from within their ranks to congressional and state conventions.

These delegates will endorse candidates for offices like governor or Congress.

Much of the time at precinct caucuses is devoted to voting on proposed resolutions. Attendees may ask that fellow voters at the caucuses support their ideas or goals. Resolutions that gain majority support at the caucuses are raised at future conventions for potential inclusion into the party’s platform.

All Minnesota parties with major party status must hold a caucus during statewide election years, including 2014. Parties with minor party status are not required to conduct caucuses but may do so if their organizers wish.

Caucus participants must be eligible to vote in this year’s Nov. 4 general election. They must live in the precinct of the caucus and be “in general agreement with the principles of the political party,” according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. Unlike some states, Minnesota does not have an official party registration process.

“The caucus is the beginning of the political process,” said Mandy Heffron, chair of the Morrison County Republican Party. “It is the first step to make an impact in your political party and in government itself. I would encourage everyone to attend because this is where you can begin to make a difference. I especially would like to encourage young people, like myself, to attend and to get involved.”

Cathy Adamek, associate chair of the Morrison County DFL, said, “A caucus gives everyone an opportunity to become involved in our government.

“It is where the government ‘for the people, by the people’ begins. Come to the caucus and become involved. The more people we have involved; the better our government becomes,” Adamek said.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, Republican Party and Independence Party all have major party status in Minnesota. Caucuses for all three parties are scheduled 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4.

In Morrison County, the DFL will caucus in one location — the Little Falls Community Middle School, 1000 First Ave. N.E. There, registration begins at 6:30 p.m. before the caucus convenes at 7 p.m.

Republicans have set up four caucus locations in Morrison County.

Residents of Belle Prairie, Bellevue, Green Prairie, Pike Creek and Ripley townships, as well as residents of all three wards of the city of Little Falls and the city of Royalton, can attend the Republican caucus at the Little Falls Community High School, 1001 Fifth Ave. S.E.

Scandia Valley Town Hall in Cushing is the Republican caucus location for residents in Cushing, Darling, Motley, Park, Rosing and Scandia Valley townships, as well as residents of the cities of Motley and Randall.

In western Morrison County, the Republican caucus will be held at the Upsala High School cafeteria, 415 S. Main Street. Residents from the cities of Bowlus, Elmdale, Flensburg, Sobieski, Swanville and Upsala, and townships of Culdrum, Elmdale, Swan River, Swanville and Two Rivers can head to that location.

Residents in eastern Morrison County, including those in Agram, Buckman, Buh, Granite, Hillman, Lakin, Leigh, Morrill, Mt. Morris, Pierz, Platte, Pulaski and Richardson townships and the cities of Buckman, Genola, Harding, Hillman, Lastrup and Pierz, can join the Republican caucus at the Pierz Senior Center, 101 Main St. S.

The Independence Party offers a live, online caucus beginning at the same time. Interested people who are busy Feb. 4 may participate in the online caucus through Tuesday, Feb. 18. Visit mnip.org for more information.

Minor parties listed on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website are the Libertarian Party and the Grassroots Party.

  • Mandy Heffron

    Those that live in Little Falls Township can also caucus with the Republicans at the LF High School.

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