Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caucus Meetings--what to expect

In United States politics and government, caucus has several distinct but related meanings. In the state of Utah, a caucus is a meeting of members of a political party or subgroup to coordinate members' actions, choose group policy, or nominate candidates for various offices. These meetings are held once a year in early spring, prior to county conventions.

When you attend your precinct caucus on March 23, here's what will happen:

1. Each precinct represents a relatively small geographical area, so you'll be attending with your neighbors--no need to feel intimidated or anxious.

2. You'll elect precinct chair and other precinct officers. If you'd like to be considered for office, be prepared to state how you'll represent your precinct. No prior experience is necessary--just a desire to serve and be involved.

3. You'll elect delegates, who will go on to the county and state party conventions. (Anyone can attend the conventions; however, only delegates will be able to vote.)

Note: Each party has its own constitution and bylaws. Rules for your caucus meeting as well as any specific bylaws pertaining to the election process will be made available to you at the meeting, or you can find them ahead of time by visiting your party Web site. Also, precinct officer and delegate responsibilities will be laid out for you at your meeting.

Sometimes attendance at precinct meetings is sparse. Often a precinct officer will find herself serving as a delegate as well. This is certainly allowable, as long as the other precinct members have had the opportunity to vote her in.

If you're elected as a delegate, plan to be in contact with as many members of your precinct as possible before your party conventions, in order to find out their views and be able to represent them. You can also take time to discuss issues with them at the precinct meeting. Very often, other precinct members will discuss the issues and elect their delegates based on how they feel they will be represented.

If you need information on where your precinct caucus will be held, check your party Web site, or contact your precinct chair.

If you're not ready to be voted into office this year, attend your caucus meetings anyway!! Plan to attend your party's county and state conventions. There you'll get an idea how the process works, and feel better equipped to serve (or elect your representation) in the future.

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