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What to expect at the Colorado caucus on Super Tuesday

Colorado will join 10 other states in selecting their preferred presidential candidate Tuesday, also known as Super Tuesday. Each state has a different system for awarding delegates that will vote in the national conventions this summer, and Colorado’s system is particularly complicated this year. 

What is the difference between a caucus and a primary?

Colorado runs on a caucus system.

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A caucus is a neighborhood meeting where people gather at precinct locations to decide which candidate to support and who delegates should be awarded to. Precinct locations are determined by where you are registered to vote.

In a primary, voters across the state cast secret ballots for candidates in their party, similar to voting in a general election.

What’s going on with the Republicans?

The 24-person Republican executive committee unanimously decided to cancel the Colorado straw poll in protest of the national rule change, which binds delegates in the state to vote at the national convention this summer for the candidate that wins the caucus vote.

According to the Denver Post, the Republicans will still hold caucuses on Tuesday where registered voters will select delegates that best represent them. These delegates are not pledged to any specific candidate and will be allowed to vote for any candidate that is eligible at the convention.

What will I do at a caucus?

Colorado caucuses begin at 7 p.m., but voters from both parties should arrive at their caucus locations by 6:30 p.m. When you arrive, expect to stand in line while you wait to be checked in. 

Democrats

Once everyone is inside their precinct locations, each precinct will introduce or choose their delegates that will go to the national convention in the summer. Party officials will give speeches to try and sway undecided voters.

The Democratic caucus procedure is active and a bit time-consuming. Voters in each location are asked to gather into groups based on what candidate they choose. Voters may also choose to stand in an undecided group.

Everyone in each group is counted. If a candidate receives less than 15 percent of the vote, those voters must choose another candidate. Voters in each group can argue for why their candidate is best to try and sway undecided voters.

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Once only viable candidates remain, a final headcount is done. The candidate with the most votes wins the delegates from that precinct.

Republicans

Instead of voting for a candidate and sending delegates to vote for that candidate at the national convention, Colorado Republicans will do almost the opposite. 

Voters will be choosing delegates they believe represent their interests. The delegates that are chosen will go to the national convention in July, where they can vote for any eligible candidate. 

What if there’s a tie?

Colorado Democratic Party rules state that a tie vote will be left up to chance, such as a coin flip or drawing from a deck of cards, but a specific method is not listed.

What happens after the caucus?

During caucuses and primaries, delegates are awarded to each candidate. These delegates will attend the party conventions in July, where each party will choose a nominee. Most delegates are required to vote for the candidate their state’s voters chose.

In Colorado, Democratic delegates are pledged to the candidate the voters select as a whole. Colorado Republican delegates are not bound to a specific candidate and can choose to vote for any eligible candidate at the convention.

Collegian News Editor Sady Swanson can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan.

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