Unraveling the Mysteries of Colorado’s Precinct Caucus

For the first time in recent history, Colorado Democratic and Republican Party members will be participating in the presidential selection process before the national nominees are determined. By going to your precinct caucus on Feb. 5, you could help determine the presidential candidates on November’s ballot.
For those of you who have never participated in a precinct caucus, it’s not as mysterious or complicated as it sounds. Colorado Republicans and Democrats have easy guidelines to follow.

What is a Precinct?

The political map of a county is divided by precincts, containing a population of around 1,000 residents. There are nearly 4,000 precincts in Colorado’s 64 counties: the City and County of Denver has several hundred precincts compared to six in rural Lake County.

What Happens at a Precinct Caucus?

The caucus meetings, which by law must be held starting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5, can be at schools, churches, private homes or meeting halls. Both the state Republican Party and Democratic Party are listing caucus locations on their websites, but your county clerk should have the most updated list.

If you want to participate in your neighborhood caucus, there are a few important qualifications. You must have been:

1. A registered voter no later than December 5, 2007

2. A member of the Democratic or Republican party since that date (unaffiliated voters cannot participate, but they can observe caucuses)

3. A resident of the precinct for 30 days prior to February 5, 2008

4. Eighteen years of age or  a naturalized citizen by December 5, 2007.

At every caucus, the agenda is generally the same:

1. Call to order and reading aloud of caucus rules

2. Determination of eligible participants

3. Election of caucus chairperson and secretary, who will run the meeting

4. Preference poll on presidential race for convention delegates (candidates must reach a 15 percent threshold of support to qualify for a delegate)

5. Election of delegates and alternates to county conventions

6. Preference poll for assembly delegates (for the Democrats, it’s the U.S. Senate race)

7. Election of delegates and alternates to county assembly

8. Election of delegates and alternates to other assemblies

9. Election of precinct committee persons

10. Consideration of resolutions to the county and/or state issues platform

11. Other business

12. Adjournment

“Conventions” pertain to the presidential election. “Assemblies” are where county, state and legislative, and congressional candidates are selected. Both events are conducted at the same time.

So, if you want to be a delegate for future conventions and assemblies or you want to show support for your favorite presidential candidate, it is imperative that you attend your precinct caucus. State Democrats are reporting large number of participants to caucus training workshops, indicating a strong interest in this year’s election process.

What Happens after a Caucus?

County conventions and assemblies, the next steps after the precinct caucuses, will be held between February 20 and March 17, and then the Congressional district and state assemblies will follow with the Democratic State Convention/Assembly on May 17 in Colorado Springs and the Republican State Convention/Assembly on May 31 in Broomfield.

Colorado will send 70 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver Aug. 25-28 and 46 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 1-4.

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