March 6 is precinct caucus night in Colorado. Voters affiliated as either Democrats or Republicans can participate in these party meetings.
What is a caucus?
A caucus is the most grassroots level of party organization. You meet with fellow party members from your neighborhood. Caucuses signal the beginning of the November 2018 election campaign.
Voters at a caucus elect delegates to the county party convention, who then may be elected to the state party assembly. Representatives of candidates may give speeches. Participants may elect people to various party committees; they may discuss issues or pass resolutions for possible addition to the party’s platform.
The 2018 Election
The most-watched race in Colorado in 2018 is for governor. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has served eight years and is term limited. Nine Republicans and nine Democrats have so far lined up to take his place.
But this is only one of the races on the November ballot. Elections in even years when there is no presidential race are called midterm elections. On the federal level, Colorado voters will pick our seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives, one for each congressional district. We have no race for U.S. Senate this year in Colorado.
On the state level, voters will choose all 65 members of the state House of Representatives and about half of our 35 state senators. We will vote on three other statewide positions: treasurer, attorney general, and secretary of state. Counties and cities also may have other elected positions on their ballots. There also may be citizen-initiated measures on the statewide ballot.
What if I am Registered as Unaffiliated?
Unaffiliated voters are not eligible to vote or participate in a party caucus. Anyone, however, can attend to observe. But wait!
The Colorado Primary Election
There is a primary election scheduled for June 26. Voters will choose which of the party’s candidates will stand in November’s general election. For example, all the Republicans running for governor will be on the ballot, and voters will choose one of them.
Because of the passage of Proposition 107 in the 2016 election, unaffiliated voters may vote in a major party primary. These voters may choose to vote in either party’s primary (but not both).
Back to Governor
Participants at a Democratic caucus will be asked to indicate a preference for one of the gubernatorial candidates. The results of this preference poll may be important down the line, but the voters in the June 26 primary will make ultimate decision on the Democratic nominee for governor. Republicans will not conduct a preference poll.
Getting More Involved
If you want to get more involved in either of the two major parties, going to your caucus is a good first step. If you want, you can decide to run for delegate to the county party convention. It is usually not very hard to be chosen. It often comes down to who is available to attend the county convention. In Larimer County, both parties will have their county conventions on March 24. There, if you want, you can decide to run for a delegate to the state party assembly. Both state party assemblies are scheduled for April 14.
Getting to Your Caucus
Caucuses usually begin at 7 p.m. To find your precinct caucus, you need to know your precinct number. That can be found on your voter registration entry at www.govotecolorado.com. It takes a couple more clicks to find your 10-digit precinct number. Then go to either www.larimerdems.org or www.larimergop.org and use your number to find the location of your caucus. Make sure the location is relatively close to where you live. If it isn’t, double check the numbers. If you have questions or need more help, both county party websites have lots of good information.
It’s not 2016
Voters who attended the 2016 precinct caucuses will remember the chaos of those meetings because of unexpected turnouts, especially on the Democratic side. This year should not be like that. This is not a presidential election year, and the final decision about the party nominees will come in the June 26 primary. This year’s caucuses should be much more sedate but not boring. I like to think that our caucuses represent grassroots democracy in action, and I am looking forward to attending mine.