Precinct Caucus

Note especially the comments at the end of this post from Jodell and Fred, who are local activists who I asked to review my column and point out errors or additional information.  At the very end, I make a recommendation for a resolution and individual action by all of us, this year.

The Minnesota Precinct Caucuses are February 1.  I happen to be Democrat and I almost always go to the local caucus, which for the last 20 years or so has been somewhere in the Woodbury area.  If you’re in my area, and my political brand, here’s the local portal for my own Senate District.  [I asked the local folks to fact-check this post.  Comments from any of them are at the end of the post.]

This year our local caucus is ‘contactless’, as in virtual, pre-registration required.  I don’t know if this is general, or simply local.  I think it is prudent given the still omni-present Covid-19 and its variants.  By now, I’m a veteran of Zoom (not always enamored by it) but I think it’s going to be the future of meetings, generally, and best to get well acquainted with it.

My local Senate district succinctly describes the caucus: “The precinct is the smallest political unit in the country where its residents vote at one location.”   Every state has its own version, date, etc.  It is the starting block for the formal political process ultimately ending in the general election 2022.

This years caucus is the decennial one – the census year caucus.  This means redistricting, which will likely not be concluded in Minnesota till sometime in March.  So, after redistricting happens, any particular address may be in another precinct; perhaps might be in another legislative district; my district may have a different number.  Nobody knows that yet.  Here’s a primer for Minnesota.  (If you’re in another state, check first with Secretary of State’s website for information.)

It is my experience that citizens tend to dismiss the importance of Precinct Caucuses, however they are defined state by state.

This is very unfortunate.

Typically, the business of our precinct caucus has two essentials: 1) selecting delegates to represent at the next level convention; 2) consider resolutions submitted by persons in attendance at the caucus.  The Democrats are diligent in matters relating to fair treatment, such as gender.

Typically, anyone who wants to be a delegate can be – I don’t recall one where there were too many candidates, though I’m sure this happens on occasion in districts where there are hot issues.

Resolutions are ‘cooks choice’ – most anything can be proposed.  If passed, all resolutions are considered by a committee after the convention, solely to make sense of the variety of wordings on resolutions of the same topic from various people.

I have served on next level committees, and democracy is respected and cherished.

I subscribe to the position that our Democracy is in more peril than ever in our history.  Even in the Civil War, there was a United States of America, against which was the rebellious Confederate States.  Now the issue seems to be Democracy vs Autocracy, and the threat is real – witness the daily news, most everywhere.

We absent ourselves from participating in our democracy at our own ultimate peril.

(By far the largest caucus I ever attended was in February, 2008, in rural Lake Elmo MN.  I had to park at least a half mile from the caucus location in a junior high school.  There were so many people in attendance that informal balloting for presidential preference was slips of paper.   What led to the interest that year, of course, was the Iraq War, the increasing danger to the U.S. economy, and the contest for president primarily involving Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.)

A distressing feature of that caucus, and others more recent, is that many people showed up to do the straw poll for President and then left.  Those who chose to stay became the potential delegates to the succeeding conventions which led to the ultimate endorsed candidates for office.

Those who came and left early represent the danger to our Democracy.  While they were there for a time, and can be thawed for that, full participation is necessary.

It is customary to blame the Party(ies).  It is not the Parties fault, nor is it the Parties responsibility.  Ultimately it is we individual citizens who choose to vote or not; to vote informed or ignorant; to vote for one office, or for every office.

We choose our own fate….

Participate fully at every level.  There is no other choice.

Earlier relevant post, here.  Most recent update on the Jan. 6 situation is here.

COMMENTS to this post I requested from local representatives, as well as one from myself:

from Jodell:

1) Due to the Covid surge, each chair of each local Organizing of the MN DFL had about 4 days to choose by Jan 16 2022 either
a) In-person with Vax, Negative Covid test or Non-attendee form submitted
b) Contactless with Non-attendee form sent by USPS, email, or Drop-off box in-person
We called an Emergency meeting of the Central Committee and everyone spoke in favor of Contactless.
2) The MN Supreme Court will announce new Redistricting Maps on Feb. 15,
unless the MN Leg can agree before then, which is not likely given Mary Kiffmeyer’s position to let the courts do it.

https://www.sd53.org is doing a Zoom + Pie event on President’s Day, Feb. 21.

Drop off/Pick up Pie on Feb. 20; zoom call 5:30pm on Feb. 21. You can OPT OUT of pie.)
3)  Who can attend?
Ages 16+ can participate and offer proposed laws (Resolutions)
Ages 18+ by Nov. 8 can be a Delegate, vote, run for office

4) Here are the Resolutions passed in 2020 by 60% of the state convention Delegates.

The Headings are the MN Legislature Committees that would hear a bill on that topic.
A resolution has to be offered in 4 regions to make it to the state committee. So call 3 friends!

DFL Party Platform (Philosophy) https://dfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/DFL-Ongoing-Platform.pdf

5) Yes, it’s a Civic Duty to be an Informed Voter and participate. Invite a friend.
6) As we move to online formats, see if that makes it easier to get involved.
People can also get involved by re-posting on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, TikTok)
(at) sd53dfl
or subscribe to our newsletter.
7) Sen. Amy Klobuchar has specific instances of surgically targeted state Voter suppression laws.
8) Democracy has to be the answer.
Where you say “Participate at every level” can you add our www.sd53.org  – use the page with
-find your polling place
-candidates forum info (posted after Jan. 24)
-Register (Non-attendee form + optional resolution form)
-Donate online $50 PCR & get $50 back.
from Fred:
I think the state DFL pretty much set the course of action for the Contactless Precinct Caucuses. I think the local organizing units then made some choices within the structure the state provided.
I am not sure after redistricting if your precinct will change as much as the precinct you are in may end up in a different senate or congressional district.
As to being able to a delegate to the local organizing unit convention if there are contested races getting chosen as a delegate is important if you are trying to help your candidate get the endorsement.  So historically it important to show up and try to get selected as a delegate.  I believe this year delegate slots will be determined by lot.
*
from Dick:  I’d really recommend a simple resolution at all precinct caucuses.  Wording can be as you wish, but the essence of it is as follows: take some time, soon, to thank everyone you know who has been willing to represent you and others in government elected positions at any level; and to workers at all levels and in all occupations who work with citizens every day, including but not limited to persons in the medical professions, in education, clerks in stores, and on and on.  These folks are the unsung heroes for us all.  Each of us know people in these front-line positions.  Do this in your own way, soon.
2 replies
  1. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein says:

    Just a note on Precincts after a redistricting. They DO change, and sometimes dramatically. If you are old enough to remember “overhead transparencies”, think of it this way: First all the redistricting has to be finalized. Then imagine you put the redistricting map for each kind of office, statewide, on an overhead transparency. Everything counts: Congressional districts, State Legislative districts, County commissioner districts, etc. etc. Then you take all of those clear plastic sheets, stack them, carefully align them and put ’em on the projector. On the projection screen, every patch of territory that has NO LINES going THROUGH it is a Precinct. It’s maybe easier to understand if you consider that when you go to vote, everyone who shows up at your Precinct Polling Place has to vote on the SAME ballot. So they all have to be living in the same district for every office. Due to all this, Precincts can be of any size, depending on these overlaps. In the 90’s, I lived in one of the smallest precincts in Minneapolis – we had about 150 voters and it only covered a few blocks. Without having moved, In the 2010’s, I’ve been living in one of the largest precincts in Mpls.

    Reply
    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      All I can say, is “yup”, and maybe “u betcha”. I not only remember overheads, but opaque projectors and thermofax…! I feel sorry for the candidates, who really don’t and can’t know anything for sure at this moment. But we all need to attend, virtual or in person, it depends.

      Reply

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