What the Heck is a Caucus?

Caucuses are happening on February 27.

What the heck is a caucus?   It’s just a group of people.  Think of it as a band of merry minstrels or pirates.  The goal is to take part in the political system.  It could be to protect the status quo or make changes that you want to see.  In the political world, voices of individuals get drowned out, but the voices of groups that vote together get listened to (also those with lots of money, but that’s another story).  If you don’t have money but you want to be heard, you need to form a group.  That’s why there are political parties.  The bedrock of our DFL party is the precinct caucus.

Precinct Caucuses are where your neighbors get together to choose people to represent them.  This is the first step towards taking part and being heard.  This is not going to help you deal with a broken streetlight or people speeding down your street, but if you want to select and support candidates for local offices (or national offices) or just have a voice, you start here.  You go to the Precinct Caucus with a bunch of neighbors that have similar concerns and have them vote for you or someone that you like to be a delegate to the next level of representation.  You can also have someone nominate you if you aren’t able to attend by filling out a form (see https://sd40-dfl.org/2024-precinct-caucuses for more details on what to do if you can’t attend a caucus in person).   That’s the basic level.   Naturally, it gets more complicated, which is why this article is being written.

Originally, caucuses were where people would go to show their support for presidential candidates, but now Minnesota has primary elections.  Primaries are how candidates make it to the ballot, but there is a lot of important stuff that still has to happen.  That’s why we attend caucuses.  Delegates still decide who the powerful grass-roots organization supports.

There will be a call for delegates, and that is when those that wish to participate will step up or have someone nominate them.  There must be equal numbers of non-male and non-female identifying people in a delegation.  If there are more people that stand up than there are openings, the caucus chair will try to even the numbers.  There could also be a Walking Caucus.  This is where someone calls for all of those present that support a particular cause to come together in the room.  Then you as a group will select delegates to support the cause.  The rules of Walking Caucuses get complicated, and hopefully the precinct chair will know how to make it work.  Basically, inside the caucus room you will separate into groups.  The number of delegates will be apportioned based on the size of your group.  There’s a lot more to it than that, but going into all of those details it would make it a very long article.  It’s all available in the DFL Call available here https://dfl.org/partydocuments/ .

Just to confuse things a little further, there are lots of caucuses operating constantly at all levels of our government.  You hear about groups like the Environmental, Veterans, etc. caucuses in Congress.  Exploring those groups is left to the reader as an exercise.

You can learn more about precinct caucuses by visiting the official DFL website: https://dfl.org/caucus/ . We hope you will join us on February 27! Read more about this year’s precinct caucuses here: https://sd40-dfl.org/2024-precinct-caucuses

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