Precinct caucuses will be held across the state Tuesday, March 1 as the first step in the process for parties to adopt the state party platform, select the party’s officers, and endorse candidates for state and national offices.  A precinct caucus is held in Minnesota every two years, in even-numbered years.  Precinct caucuses are open to the public but in order to vote, offer resolutions, or become a delegate, attendees need to be eligible to vote in the fall election, live in the precinct and be in general agreement with the principles of the political party.  

Hubbard County caucus locations  Hubbard County GOP caucus locations are Park Rapids Century School Cafetorium (501 Helten Ave.), Akeley Regional Community Center (210 Pleasant Avenue Southeast), Laporte School Community Room (315 Main Street West).   

Hubbard County DFL caucus locations are Park Rapids Area High School (401 Huntsinger Avenue), Nevis School (210 Pleasant Avenue), Laporte School (315 Main Street West), Lake George Town Hall (37137 U.S. Highway 71), Rockwood Town Hall (16962 County Road 9), Helga Community Hall (25894 County Road 9).  If you’re unsure where to go on caucus night, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office and political parties have an easy to use, online caucus finder at http://mnvotesinfo.sos.state.mn.us/voters/precinct-caucus/.  Simply type in your zip code and then your address, and it will show where you should go. Another option is to look at your property tax statement to see what township you live in.  

“This is a process which allows for candidates to be screened time and time again by succeeding groups of party participants before the primary election. It also produces a platform that reflects the local situation, and provides a basis for holding elected officials accountable to their constituents.” I Trust to be Believed - Speeches and Reflections by the late Gov. Elmer L. Andersen, Minnesota Governor 1961-63.

GOP straw poll  The straw poll for the GOP is binding for the first vote at the National Convention. And how that works is that after the votes are counted Monday night for each of the candidates the percentage of the vote that each one received will be reflected in that first vote.  The delegates that will represent Minnesota at the National Convention are chosen as follows: Each congressional district (8) will elect three delegates, eleven delegates are elected at large at the State GOP Convention and then we have three RNC committee members from the state for a total of 38 delegates representing Minnesota.  The 38 delegates have to vote in the first round of voting in the same proportion as the voters who attended their precinct caucus and voted in the straw poll. If a presidential candidate that received votes in our straw poll vote has dropped out of the race prior to the national convention, then those delegates are free to vote for the candidate of their choosing.  If a delegate does not vote as directed from the straw poll in the first round of voting their vote is void for the remainder of the rounds of voting. After the first round the delegates are not bound to the straw poll vote as candidates maybe dropping out, etc.   The precinct caucus is the first step in the process that adopts the State Party Platform, selects the Party’s officers, and endorses candidates for state and national offices.  It is also the first meeting many new activists attend.  The precinct caucus should be conducted to allow ample opportunity for discussion.  The atmosphere should encourage an exchange of ideas, like at a neighborhood meeting. The rights of all those participating should be treated with fairness and respect.  During the caucus precinct officers will be elected to serve a 2-year term. Delegates will be elected to attend the annual BPOU (Basic Political Organizational Unit) convention. Attendees will participate in a Presidential Straw Poll. Election Judges, Poll Challengers, and other volunteers will be recruited. Additions and changes to the State Party Platform will be discussed.

DFL caucus   A highlight of DFL caucuses this year will be to complete a straw ballot and vote for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The results will be reported to the state shortly after 8 p.m. The results will ultimately determine how many delegates each candidate gets at their party’s national endorsing convention. People can go to their designated location, cast a ballot and leave if they wish, but are encouraged to stay and participate in this important part of our Minnesota democratic process.  To participate, you must be eligible to vote in the November general election and live in the precinct. You also must generally agree with the principles of the political party hosting the caucus.  The DFL Party uses precinct caucuses and conventions to endorse candidates and to debate and set the issues the Party will stand for. The caucus and convention process sets the framework for the DFL Party by helping shape the platform and Action Agenda, selecting candidates who will receive endorsements, electing party leaders, and voting on the party constitution and bylaws. These meetings are a great way to get involved and make your voice heard - even if you’ve never attended before.  

An important part of caucus night is the opportunity to compose resolutions that will be forwarded to the county convention and, if approved there, to go on to the state convention for deliberation for acceptance to the official DFL Ongoing Platform and Action Agenda. Resolutions are categorized on topics such as agriculture and food, business and community development, education, health and human services and natural resources and environment. So if you have a strong opinion about the state government’s role in such subjects, precinct caucuses are one way to make your voice heard. A resolution form can be downloaded at https://www.dfl.org/about-our-party/caucuses-conventions/.  The DFL site also has a form for absentee participation. If you want to participate in the precinct caucus, but can’t attend in person March 1, you can complete the form and have someone else bring it on caucus night or send the form or all of the information on the form to the Hubbard County DFL Party chair no later than Saturday, Feb. 27. This form/information also is at https://www.dfl.org/about-our-party/caucuses-conventions/.  The Hubbard County convention will be held Sunday, March 13 at the Laporte School.

(GOP information provided by Paul Utke, chairman of the Hubbard County Republicans. DFL information provided by LuAnn Hurd-Lof, secretary of Hubbard County DFL).