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Paynesville Press - February 25, 2004

Caucus night in Minnesota is Tuesday, March 2

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

On Tuesday, March 2, Minnesotans will have the opportunity to choose presidential candidates, help establish their political platforms, and elect delegates by participating in precinct caucuses across the state.

Caucus sites Tuesday is known as "Super Tuesday" because ten different states will hold either primaries or caucuses to choose their presidential nominees. In Minnesota, caucuses will be held by four major parties: the DFL Party, the Republican Party, the Green Party of Minnesota, and the Independence Party of Minnesota.

All caucuses will begin at 6:30 p.m. with voting starting at 7 p.m.

Unlike a primary election - where voters simply cast ballots for candidates - caucus participants should plan to spend time discussing party issues, including presidential nominations, and their party platform.

According to Pat Flanders, who has organized the Paynesville Township DFL caucus for nearly 30 years, the goals of a caucus are three-fold. The first goal is to establish the party's platform by voting on resolutions.

The next phase of the caucus is usually a straw poll to help determine who will represent the party in the general election. This year, participants of DFL caucuses will be asked to vote for a presidential candidate. (Republican caucus participants will not participate in a straw poll for presidential candidates, according to the Minnesota Republican Party Headquarters.)

The last function of a caucus is to elect delegates to represent each party on the county level. Eventually, delegates will be elected to represent each party on the state and national level attending the Democratic National Convention.

According to Flanders, the number of delegates each precinct can send to the county level is based on population. For instance, Paynesville Township can send seven delegates to the county level. In the past, though, finding seven delegates has been difficult because of poor caucus turnout, he added.

Caucus participation is open to anyone who will be eligible to vote in the November election and will likely vote for a candidate from that party. Even those who are not yet 18 can participate if they will be 18 on election day.

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