Minnesota caucus approaches

By Kenny Kiratli

Kenny Kiratli ('17) attends Northwestern University.

Posted: February 26, 2016

By Luke Frazier and Kenny Kiratli

Twenty-four million people tuned in to Fox Television on the evening of Aug. 6, 2015.

The viewership, twice as large as the Sept. 2015 Emmys and over six million more than the deciding game of the 2015 World Series, wasn’t anticipating a sporting event—the NFL season was still weeks away—nor was it excitedly hoping for a favorite actor to receive a prestigious award—the Oscars were months down the road.

The enormous crowd watched intently as 10 Republican presidential hopefuls argued immigration, foreign affairs and other topics expected to put a population to sleep, not captivate it. For perspective, the Republican primary debate on Fox four years ago drew only 3.2 million viewers.

The 2016 presidential election has drawn unexpected attention. The American people have followed along in millions, largely because the candidate panel is overflowing with intriguing personalities.

Far-left, free-college-promising Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders clashes with Hillary Clinton, who faces possible legal repercussions for storing classified emails on her personal server.

Donald Trump, Republican advocate for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, remains a frontrunner as he competes against Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The race is all but a reality TV show. The prize? Becoming the most powerful man or woman in the world. Now, it’s up to the American people to elect a president.

Rather than watching the debates and listening to the rhetoric on TV, you can be directly involved in the 2016 presidential election. The Minnesota caucus, along with 12 other states, takes place on March 1, better know as Super Tuesday. If you are 18 by Nov. 8, 2016, you can participate.

But before Election Day on Nov. 8, 2016, each party must nominate a single candidate. The process falls in the hands of the people in the form of primaries and caucuses—both methods to determine, on a state level, which candidates are favored.

In primaries, voters cast secret ballots for their desired candidates; a winner is announced by popular vote.

Caucuses, on the other hand, are much more complicated, especially for Democrats, and often involve public shows of approval for a candidate. To vote for a Democratic candidate, Democratic-registered-voters organize themselves in groups of supporters based on whom they support in different corners of the room they have gathered in. There is a threshold of viability, usually around 15 percent, for a candidate. If a candidate does not reach that threshold,  his or her supporters must reassign themselves to their second choice. The voters are then counted by precinct organizers and then are awarded precinct delegates based on their percent of support. These precinct delegates then go on to vote for county, then state, then national delegates.

Minnesota is one of 10 states that holds an open caucus; regardless of your party affiliation, if you are a registered voter you can vote in either party’s caucus.

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