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Front Page » February 28, 2012 » Opinion » Political party caucuses being held soon around state
Published 913 days ago

Political party caucuses being held soon around state


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By STAN LOCKHART
former State GOP Chairman

In 2012, the most important elections in Utah occur in neighborhood meetings called precinct caucuses on March 13 for Democrats and March 15 for Republicans. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. at designated homes and schools throughout Utah (more than 2,000 meetings each night).

Delegates are elected in these meetings to represent their neighborhood at County and State conventions which select a Party's candidate(s) for a primary or general election. You are invited to attend your own caucus for the political party of your choice.

What is a delegate and what do they do?

Who you elect as a delegate is of critical importance to the political process because each delegate votes for candidates running for elected office. You trust they will make good choices on your behalf. You trust they will attend the convention and stay until the final round of voting is over.

Why become a delegate?

For statewide races you become one of 4,000 people or less and in some races one of 80 people who determine which candidate represents your political Party in a primary or general election.

If a candidate receives more than 60 percent of the delegate vote at convention, he/she represents the Party on the general election ballot in November. If no candidate receives more than 60 percent of the vote, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes go to a primary election.

For example, there are 4,000 Republican State Delegates. A candidate running for Governor who receives more than 2,400 votes becomes the Republican candidate for Governor and avoids a primary election.

A delegate finds the candidate who would best represent their neighborhood/precinct and best represents the values and ideals associated with the party platform. A delegate receives campaign literature, visits websites, talks to candidates, goes to debates and cottage meetings, and attends one convention per year. Delegates serve a two-year term.

Who can be a delegate?

Be a US citizen and 18 years old or older by Nov. 6, 2012. Live in the neighborhood/precinct you represent. To vote or run for a Republican delegate position, you must be a registered Republican, but you can register at the caucus.

County or State Delegate?

There are two kinds of delegate, a County delegate and a State delegate. County delegates choose legislative candidates whose districts are entirely in one county and county elected offices. State delegates choose legislative candidates whose districts are in multiple counties and all statewide and federal offices.

How to get elected as a delegate?

1. Find what precinct you live in and the caucus location. Contact your County government Elections Office or Clerk's Office or go to your political Party's website.

Utah County Elections Office

801-851-8109

www.co.utah.ut.us

Utah State Democratic Party

(801) 328-1212

www.utahdemocrats.org

Utah State Republican Party

(801) 533-9777

www.utgop.org

Or try the Utah Elections website: http://gva1.utah.gov/elections/polling.aspx (Enter your name, birth date, county, and house number.) Caucus location information also appears in major newspapers a few days before caucuses.

2. Bring neighbors to the precinct caucus to vote for you. Contact neighbors and ask them to come to the caucus and vote for you. Caucus attendance varies from 0-200 people attending depending on the precinct. If more than half of the people attending already support you, it is far easier to get elected.

3. Arrive 10 minutes early. Greet attendees and introduce yourself to neighbors you may not already know. Ask your supporters to arrive early as well (bring photo ID).

4. Ask someone to nominate you. After initial party business, county delegates and state delegates will be elected. Have a spouse or friend nominate you when nominations are open. If no one nominates you, you can nominate yourself. In Utah County a Precinct Chair is a State and County delegate and a Precinct Vice-Chair is a County delegate.

5. Be prepared to speak and answer questions. Read and state your support for the Party platform found on the Party website and mention parts of it you have passion for. Speak from your heart. Talk about why you would best represent your neighborhood (your strengths). Mention your criteria for evaluating candidates. Promise to devote the time needed to evaluate the candidates. Don't endorse specific candidates or take positions on issues that could cause attendees to not vote for you. Ask for their vote. Smile, make eye contact. Practice beforehand. Keep it brief.

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