Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How does the Iowa Caucus work?

As you probably know, the Iowa Caucuses are held today - this is the first actual nominating contest to determine who will be the Republican nominee for President (Democrats are holding a caucus as well, but President Obama is uncontested).

However, these caucuses are different than primaries that we have in Pennsylvania.  A primary is like any other election - you just go into the voting booth and vote - caucuses, however, are very different animals.  Here is how they work:

  • Voters show up at designated locations and the formal meetings begin.
  • Representatives speak on behalf of their selected candidates.  
  • Voters vote by secret ballot.
  • Results are sent in to the state party, who then sends the results to the media.
Voters are actually voting on delegates to district conventions - at the district conventions, a vote is taken to send delegates to the state convention, where National Delegates are ultimately selected.

Yipes.  Confusing.  Anyway, for caucuses, you must be in attendance - no absentee voting - and you must be able to dedicate a couple of hours to the process for your vote to count.  This tends to skew voters in caucuses to more dedicated and passionate voters - and voters who actually have the time to participate.

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