tuesday, february 25, 2020
Precinct caucuses are a foundational pillar of the DFL Party’s grassroots history. A precinct is a voting district established by your city or town. A caucus is a gathering of neighbors for the purpose of discussing issues and organizing the local DFL party unit.
All caucuses begin at 7:00pm. (Registration at 6:30pm)
Anoka High School
3939 7th Ave NW
Andover High School Room A106
2115 Andover Blvd
Coon Rapids High School Room 135
2340 Northdale Blvd. NW
Brookside Elementary School Room 116
17003 Nowthen Blvd NW
NOTE: This year there will be no caucus voting for Presidential candidates (In the past these were also known as “Straw Polls”). The reason is because we are having a presidential nomination primary election. Our Primary Election is on March 3 and only Presidential candidates will be on that ballot. Click this link for your Primary voting location: https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CAUCUS AND A PRIMARY?
Caucuses are run in city precincts. Precincts are divisions of a city into neighborhood voting areas. This is determined by your city or county board. A precinct caucus is just a meeting of neighborhoods where you will choose someone, a neighbor, who will represent you to your political party (become a delegate), or choose a candidate that you will support to run for office (Senator, Congresswoman, State Representative). This is all done by group discussion and voting. In a primary election, registered voters may participate in choosing the candidate for the party’s nomination by voting through secret ballot, as in a general election.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A CAUCUS?
After Iowa’s caucus issues, let’s take the scare out of going to caucuses! Here we will describe the different activities and roles of caucus participants.
When you arrive at your precinct location, you will sign in to your correct precinct room with name and address information to affirm this. You will meet some of your neighbors in the room, so greet them. Don’t be shy; you are all here for the same reason. Here are the things that will be happening…
1. The caucus must be called to order at 7:pm SHARP, by a convener.
Conveners are trained volunteers who will get things off to a smooth start. They will need your help with their tasks. Initial business will then be started. Remember Caucuses are run by your political parties. So…
2. A few statements will be read to remind everyone about the purpose and nature of the DFL, and the caucus process.
First: Eligibility Statement. “When you signed in to caucus you agreed to the following four items: (1) You live in the precinct. (2) You consider yourself a member of DFL Party and agree with its principles as stated in the Preamble of the State DFL Constitution and Bylaws. (3) You are not an active member of any other political party. (4) You will be at least 18 years old and eligible to vote by November 3, 2020 if you want to vote or run for any caucus position, including delegate or alternate. Alternatively, to be eligible to participate in all other caucus business, you will be 16 years old by November 3, 2020.”
Next: Affirmative Action, Outreach and Inclusion Statements. “The DFL seeks to end discrimination and bigotry in all its forms and to inspire broad participation in our party. As part of our commitment to outreach and inclusion, we will take affirmative steps to increase the participation of members of all underrepresented communities. When you vote today, remember this commitment includes electing members of underrepresented communities to positions both within the DFL party and in public office.”
Then: The Platform Statement. “The State DFL Ongoing Platform embodies the principles of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The State DFL Action Agenda is a set of recommended public policy positions which the party supports and will promote during the next two years. The State DFL Legislative Priorities will be drawn from these two documents.”
3. Your group selects a chair for the evening.
You will then elect a Caucus Chairperson who will take over from the convenor, and take you through the actual business. This is a position only for this evening. Sometimes they are the same person. You will also elect or appoint two people who will count any votes (Tellers) and a Secretary to help fill in the forms and make sure everyone signs appropriately and any votes get counted accurately.
4. The group agrees on the agenda and rules.
There are standard guidelines, but you may modify them. What is important to most people is setting limits on how long any one person can speak. You want to be fair and not let any one person monopolize your meeting.
Now comes the part that will matter to you and your neighborhood.
5. You choose your precinct chair and vice chairs.
These people will represent your neighborhood to your Senate District (that’s all of us). This job description is fun. We invite you to our monthly meetings, which are the 4th Wednesday of each month at Davanni’s Pizza in Coon Rapids at 7pm. There you will be informed of local, state and national happenings and can offer input into what your neighborhood thinks is important and might be done. You can help us with our local happenings, like walking in the city parades and coming to our picnics or other gatherings, helping us with voter registration or campaign literature or candidates. Each one of you are invited to do this, but the Precinct Chair and Vice Chairs are especially important as communicators here. They will serve until the next caucuses. Fun fact: there are 28 precincts in our senate district, so you will be in good company.
6. Now we get to the election of convention delegates.
This is the real heart of grassroots democracy. The Delegates chosen on caucus night determine who will ultimately be endorsed for office as your Minnesota State legislator, your state and national Senators, and, if they continue to the National Convention, to the choosing of the next President. So, it is important to elect strong delegates at the caucus level. They are accountable for promoting the candidates you prefer. Their voice will be directly heard at our own Senate District 35 Convention on March 27. So, if you have a candidate you particularly like, then by becoming a delegate, you can promote them. Each Senate District (SD35) and Congressional District (CD6) are allowed a specified number of delegates. We will keep you up to date on details of the upcoming Conventions.
7. Delegates and alternates will receive a blue Call card before you leave your caucus.
This is your Call to our Convention. Read it, keep it, and bring it with you to the March 27 Convention.
The core beliefs of the DFL are contained in two parts: First, the DFL Platform, this is a body of all the basic principles that the DFL believes. Second, the Action Agenda, these are the urgent policy positions that our DFL leaders work to enact in the next two legislative sessions. They are grounded in the Platform, but more specific.
Resolutions are issues that you feel strongly about. You get to write out what it is you would like to see Democrats strive to accomplish in our State Legislature in the next two years. There are eighteen categories in the DFL Platform, and you decide which category you want your issue to be in. It is, therefore, a good idea to read the Platform first to see if your issue is already there in some form, and if so, decide if you want to alter it. Your group will then discuss the merits of your proposal (and others), and everyone in your precinct group votes. If yours passes, it will be collated with other precinct resolutions and voted on by a larger group– at our Senate District 35 convention on March 25. If a resolution passes there, it is forwarded to the State Platform Committee and voted on at our State Convention in Rochester on May 30-31.
So, it becomes a whole party process. This is also why it is fun to become a delegate during caucuses. You will be able to vote on these important resolutions. This is one way we can impact climate change, big and dark money in politics, getting healthcare for all, and anything else you might be passionate about.
Facts: There are 4000 precincts in MN. Taking the resolutions from all of them and putting them into categories in the official DFL Platform is a tremendous job. To get to the state level, it must have the support of at least 5 precincts in two different Congressional Districts. Our Senate District is in CD3 and CD6. Therefore, if you have a resolution you desperately want passed, get your friends and neighbors to introduce it in their precincts too. It will stand an increased chance of getting considered at the state level.
See the current DFL Ongoing Platform here: https://votedemocratmn.org/minnesota-dfl-ongoing-platform/
If you would like to be well prepared with your proposed Resolution for the caucus, you can print a Resolution form out, fill it in at home, then take it with you to submit at the caucus. Many people prefer to submit Resolutions this way, as it gives them a chance to put more time and thought into writing it, and an opportunity to do some research at home on the issue. You can print a Resolution form from this link: https://www.dfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Resolution-Form-2019-09-24_Call_FINAL_Rev_A_adopted_21_September_2_001.pdf
FINALLY, IF YOU CANNOT BE PRESENT AT YOUR PRECINCT CAUCUS…
but still want to be a delegate, first, know your rights: Minnesota Statutes Section 202A.19 permits Minnesota residents to take time off from work without pay to attend precinct caucuses, provided they give their employer written notice at least 10 days in advance. State universities, community colleges, and public schools may not hold classes or events after 6:00 p.m. on the evening of precinct caucuses. State agencies, school boards, county boards, township boards, city councils, and all other political subdivisions may not conduct meetings after 6:00 p.m. on caucus night.
Or – second – if you simply cannot attend your caucus, you can fill out and submit an Absentee (Non-Attendee) Form in advance. Get one at this link: https://www.dfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Precinct-Caucus-Non-Attendee-Form-2019-09-24_Call_FINAL_Rev_A_adopted_21_September_2_003_1-1.pdf
This video, from the Minnesota DFL, offers a step-by-step look at a precinct caucus and helps to answer questions on what to expect at your caucus Tuesday, February 25.