Precinct Caucus Information
Precinct Caucus Training - New
What is a major party precinct caucus?
The precinct caucus is the grassroots level of major party activity in the state of Minnesota. The road to election day begins at the precinct caucus which is held the first Tuesday in February this year. The major parties of Minnesota are the Republican, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor, and the Independence Party. As a result of the 1994 election, the Independence Party (then the Reform Party) fulfilled Minnesota statutory requirements and became a major party. In the last few elections the Constitution and Green Parties have won and lost major party status. Major parties are required by law to hold precinct caucuses on "caucus night" complying with general rules and regulations. Each party determines its own specific procedures.
Everyone who lives within a voting precinct and is a qualified voter (or will be by the next election) may participate in one party's precinct caucus in any one year.
Participants elect the caucus chair, precinct officers and delegates to the next level of party organization - county or district. They also introduce, discuss and vote on resolutions which are statements of position on issues that can be influenced by state or national legislation. These are recommendations to a party for planks in its platform.
The precinct caucus is the first step on the road to the final selection of candidates and platforms. The next step is either a county or legislative district convention, followed by a congressional district convention, a state convention and finally in presidential election years, the national convention. At each level, issues and candidates are discussed and voted on by the delegates selected from the prior level. the Independence Party convenes the precinct caucus, referred to as the legislative district convention unit and the legislative district convention on the same evening. The legislative district convention unit is a component of the regular session of the legislative district convention.
Currently, in Minnesota, there is no presidential primary election.
Why should I attend my caucus?
Caucuses give you and your neighbors in the precinct an opportunity to discuss issues that are important to you - a chance to say how you would like to see a problem addressed. It is also your opportunity to influence the candidate selection within your party. You are given a voice in the process at the most basic level.
You can introduce resolutions prepared by yourself or groups that you support. It is in the precinct caucus that the formal process of candidate selection begins and here is your opportunity to speak for candidates who may be chosen to represent your party in the general election in November.
You may take an active role by becoming a delegate to the next level of meetings or you may choose to go only to observe the process.
You may take time off work to attend your precinct caucus after giving your employer 10 days written notice and shall suffer no penalty or deduction from salary or wages on account of absence other than a deduction for the actual time absent from work.
How do I decide which party caucus to attend?
Find out the positions of the parties on issues that are important to you and decide if you are in general agreement with one of the parties. Have you voted more often in the past for one party's candidates? Do you plan to support one party's candidates this year?
When you sign in at a caucus, you will be stating that you do support the basic tenets of that party, have done so in the past or plan to in the next election. This is not a lifetime commitment, nor even an absolute requirement to vote for only one party at the general election.
You may also go as an observer and not vote.
Primary elections, however, do require that you vote for only one party's candidates. In the past, voters were required to ask for the primary ballot for the party of their choice. This is no longer the case. All Primary Election voters receive the same ballot, but must vote only for candidates of one party.
What about minor parties?
Minor political parties do not participate in the caucus system. They may have an influence on the outcome of elections by voting on election day, but they have little influence on the selection of candidates or positions on issues. Voting is still very important, however. Minor party candidates do not follow this process to get on the general election ballot. Their names are placed on the ballot upon submission of an election petition bearing the names of eligible Minnesota voters by a certain date. The number of signatures required is dependent upon the office.
If you have questions about this process, call the Secretary of State, Elections Division at (651) 296-2803.
When and where are the caucuses held?
In even years, caucuses for the major parties (as defined by state law) take place on the first Tuesday in February at 7:00 p.m. in every voting precinct of the state Watch for the location of your precinct's caucus will be announced in the newspapers the week before. You may also call your party's headquarters for this information. All sites must be accessible to the elderly and the disabled unless there are none available. If you have special needs or questions about your assigned site, call the party headquarters.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party
For TDD service to contact the parties, you may call (metro) (651) 297-5353 or (greater Minnesota) 1-800- 657-3529.
What happens in the caucus?
There are some variations in how a caucus operates, but all do so under state regulation and according to Robert's Rules of Order.
Upon arrival at the caucus site, you will be asked to sign your name and address on a sheet that states that the undersigned agree with party principles and intend to support party candidates in the coming election.
Before the caucus convenes:
Go early. This is the time when people are passing out copies of the resolutions they hope will be adopted and looking for support for delegates and candidates. If you want to be a part of this, come prepared. Bring copies of your own resolutions, try to bring people who support your positions to the caucus or identify supporters there. Ask an experienced caucus attendee to advise you on strategy. If all of this seems too complicated, just go to watch the first time.
Order of Business:
At 7:00 p.m. all caucuses in the state are convened.
Caucus must last at least one hour.
Adjournment occurs when all of the business is completed.
Further questions regarding the caucuses or the election in general may be directed to the Secretary of State's office at (651) 296-2803.