With Super Tuesday right around the corner, SCSU College Democrats held an event Thursday night in the Atwood North Voyageur room, teaching students and community members how to caucus.
With the Presidential election happening this year, it is important to understand the process the candidates have to go through and how you play a part in the whole show.
What exactly is a Caucus?
A Caucus is a little bit different from the voting process you might be used to. When you go into the voting booth during a regular election, it is frowned upon to have buttons or other spirit-wear to support your candidate of interest.
In a caucus, you are highly encouraged to show up and support members of your party and discuss with others why you think your specific pick for the candidate is the best one, because a caucus is usually held by a specific political party.
The first thing you do when you arrive is register to vote. When you register at your caucusing site, you’re put in a booth with a ballot that looks like a fill-in-the-bubble sheet — similar to the ones you would use to take an exam.
The ballots have the names of the candidates on them. You mark your choice. Once all of the voting process is complete, then you officially start to take part in the party process by election the precinct chair, the people who are elected to go and represent the voters at the party meetings every month.
While the precinct chair is being selected, that is when you go and converse with your neighbors about who you plan to vote for.
At 7 p.m., the convener comes in and calls into order everyone who has caucused that evening. The convener then states the rules of the party. For example, they will list off the parties beliefs on such stances as affirmative action, diversity and make sure everyone that is signed up to support the party is in sync with what they believe.
When the guidelines for all of that have been made clear by the party, the convener or caucus chair stake a vote and picks who will be the precinct chair.
After the election for the chair is complete, two tellers and a secretary are appointed to see who voted for which candidate. They look at all of the numbers and consider a resolution.
After the announcements are made, they say when the Senate district meeting will be to select the district delegates who will go on to the next step of the voting process. Finally, the decision is made to who won the Caucus and fact checks are made to make sure the numbers are correct.
The process usually only takes two hours and then everyone who wants to, is free to go.
What Exactly is Super Tuesday?
Super Tuesday is one, if not the most important day in a presidential election year. It is when the most amount of states send their delegates to the national convention and can potentially eliminate weak candidates who are not polling as high.
Minnesota is one of the states holding a caucus on Super Tuesday with the state holding 38 of the delegates. For establishment Republicans, it could be the last time they have a chance at knocking Donald Trump out of the race and for the Democrats, it’s still a tight battle between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Is the youth vote going to make a difference in this race?
Britton Mikkelsen, head of the College Democrats, said students are excited to vote, but often feel discouraged by others, because they tell them that they don’t know enough.
“We go door to door in the dorms, and we ask them about which candidates they like and they know a lot more than they think they do,” she continued. “They just often hear from older adults that they’re young and naive and don’t know as much about politics and it makes them feel insecure, which sometimes causes them to not want to go out and vote.”
When asked about how the turnout was going to be for the caucus on Tuesday, former State Rep. Zachary Dorholt said, “I think the voter turnout is going to be larger than usual amongst the youth vote this time around, especially with Bernie Sanders. He has gotten more people excited about politics than any other election year I’ve seen.”
A big reason why Bernie Sanders is so popular among the youth is because of his campaign finance system reform, which some college students feel is necessary because of the large amounts of money fueled into the political system by special interest groups.
In 2009 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, a conservative non-profit organization which now has the ability to fuel as much Super PAC money as they want into a candidate of their interest without disclosing any donors.
“When young people see this kind of stuff going on in Washington, they don’t even want to vote anymore because they don’t think that it matters because whoever has the most money wins and that’s what’s really bad for our democracy, when people stop voting and these big organizations basically buy out the election,” Dorholt said.
Mikkelson and Dorholt agreed that with younger people in the voting process, voters will be able to elect someone who tends to their needs.
Mikkelson said, “While I love Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar for being great Senators, there is really no one looking out for our issues.
“They don’t really see us as people, because we are only in our late teens and early 20s, politicians don’t really think of us as people until we are 35 years old when we start having to worry about Medicare and social security, what about the crippling student debt?
“How am I supposed to pay for a car, a house and everything else my college degree and future job are supposed to help me pay?”
While Super Tuesday is only a few days away the race is still in a tight spot with unpredictable results.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a tight spot for the Democratic nomination, while the Republicans are still brawling over the establishment and the outsider candidates along with the future of their parties moral, economic and national security standards. This is a race that will go down in United States history and the youth vote plays a very big role in making history.