The 2016 caucuses: what to expect as a Democrat or Republican

Caitlin Curley and Mike Nickels

You must register as either a Democrat or a Republican by January to participate in the 2016 caucuses and help determine which candidate from each party will be on the ticket.

Colorado remains one of the 13 U.S. states that uses a caucus for preliminary elections. A caucus is a meeting of party leaders and registered party members in which convention delegates are selected. Delegates represent voters in the Republican national convention in Cleveland and the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, and select the party candidate to run in the election.

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You must be present at your party’s caucus in order to have a say in the candidate delegation process.

If you are a Democrat

If you’re not already registered as an affiliate with the Democratic Party and want to participate in the caucus, make sure you register by Jan. 1 on the Secretary of State website.

If you are a registered Democrat, you are eligible to attend the caucus in your precinct within Larimer County March 1. At the caucus, you will vote for your preferred candidate in a poll.

The poll will determine how the delegates vote at the Democratic National Convention, and split up delegates proportional to the votes. A candidate must obtain at least 15 percent of the total vote to receive any delegates.

If you are a Republican

Make sure to register as an affiliate with the Republican Party by Jan. 1 on the Secretary of State website.

If you are a registered Republican, you are eligible to attend the caucus in your precinct within Larimer County March 1.

The Republican Party canceled the presidential preference poll at the caucus, so you will not be voting in a poll. The delegates will still be chosen, but they will not be bound to any candidate.

Why to get involved

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Jennifer Williams, vice chairwoman of the Larimer County Democrats, said that it is very important to attend your party’s caucus.

“It is the only way you will be able to have a voice in who your nominee is,” Williams said. “I am a millennial myself and I think its super important to vote in the caucuses because it allows your voice to be amplified.”

Molly Fitzpatrick, organizing director of New Era Colorado, said that Colorado’s young voter turnout has been increasing over the past few years, and next year one-third of eligible voters in Colorado will be members of the millennial generation.

“When young people vote, the issues that we care about become a priority,” Fitzpatrick wrote in a statement to the Collegian. “Next year, young voters are poised to have a tremendous impact, and we need to show our strength early on by participating in caucuses and primary elections.”

Collegian Digital Managing Editor and KCSU News Director Mike Nickels can be reached at ccurley@collegian.com and news@kcsufm.com.