Opinion: You can protect our democracy: Attend your caucus
One of the main functions of a local League of Women Voters unit is to educate the public on local issues and ways to participate.
The League itself is nonpartisan. We do not support any political party or candidate. But we encourage all citizens/voters to participate in their precinct caucuses and the election process. Engaged citizens, who follow and try to understand the process, can make informed decisions. In the last election cycle, only about 10 percent of registered voters turned out to help decide who would be their parties' candidates.
After the last round of elections in 2016, I personally heard many friends state:
• that they chose between the lesser of two evils
• they didn't like either candidate
• there is no real choice: the candidates are all the same.
People who expressed these feelings often decide not to vote. But not participating is not fixing the problem. We allowed 10 percent of the people to do the planning.
On Feb 6, all voters who are eligible to vote in the November elections have an opportunity to change this scenario. Attend your local precinct caucus.
By law, precinct caucuses are meetings run by Minnesota's major and minor political parties. The caucus is the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates and set goals and values (called party platforms).
You don't need to already be a member of a particular party. A voter can change which party they identify with. The major political parties do expect that participants pledge to support the party in the upcoming election.
Political parties run their caucus meetings a little differently. Watch for further information from each party as to place, time and rules for your party's caucus.
During the caucus, participants will vote on resolutions (value or policy statements) that will be included in the platform, and choose their preference for candidates within the party for each office. Both parties will have a preference ballot (also called a straw poll) for candidates for governor this year.
Then participants choose delegates who will endorse candidates at future conventions. At the district and state conventions, party delegates will endorse state and federal candidates, including Governor and Lieutenant Governor, state constitutional offices and Congress.
Know your rights:
• You have the right to take time off work to be at a precinct caucus or political party convention (if you're a delegate or alternate). You must give your employer 10 days' written notice.
• Public universities, community colleges, and public schools cannot hold classes or events after 6 p.m. on the evening of precinct caucuses
If you want more information on caucuses, check out the links at lwvparkrapidsarea.blogspot.com.