Politics & Government

Ready to caucus in Kansas? Here’s how

What is a caucus?

Caucuses are essentially meetings where party members choose candidates. They are run by the political parties.

Each party sets its own rules for caucus eligibility, participation, hours of operation and counting the results. Voting machines aren’t used. Republicans use a secret ballot. Democrats stand in groups and are counted.

Caucuses are free, although both parties use them to seek donations and build volunteer rosters.

Here’s what to expect Saturday.

Republicans

Who: Anyone who was a registered Republican by Feb. 4. Take a government-issued photo ID.

When: You can cast a ballot anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Sedgwick County voters will caucus at Century II in Wichita. Butler County Republicans will caucus at the Butler County Commission building, 206 N. Griffith in El Dorado. Republicans can caucus at any of 102 sites across the state, although participants are urged to caucus in their home county if possible.

How it works: After short speeches from attendees supporting the candidates, caucusgoers can mark secret ballots. Caucus voters can also cast a ballot as uncommitted.

You don’t need to go right at 10 a.m., and you don’t have to listen to the speeches. You can cast your ballot anytime before 2 p.m.

At stake: There are 40 convention delegates at stake in the caucuses. Three are national committee members, and they’re pledged to the top vote-getter in the statewide vote.

Twenty-five statewide delegates will be assigned proportionally to candidates who receive at least 10 percent of the vote. The remaining 12 delegates also are awarded proportionally, but by congressional district. Kansas has four congressional districts.

All Kansas delegates must cast their votes at the party’s national convention July 18-21 in Cleveland based on the caucus results, until they are released by the candidates.

More information: www.ksgop.org/#!caucus/cl95

Democrats

Who: Any registered Democrat. You can register to vote or change your party affiliation at the caucus site. That means Republicans and independents who want to take part can register as Democrats on caucus day. If you register to vote, you will need to provide proof of citizenship. If you do not, Democrats will still allow you to caucus, but you won’t be officially registered to vote. You’ll need to follow up with proof later.

When: Registration begins at 1 p.m. The actual caucus begins at 3 p.m.

Where: Democrats must go to the caucus site in their state Senate district. To determine what Senate district you live in, look on your voter registration card or go to myvoteinfo.voteks.org.

Here are south-central Kansas sites:

▪ District 14b: El Dorado Senior Center, 210 E. Second Ave., El Dorado

▪ District 16: Andover Community Center, 1008 E. 13th St., Andover

▪ District 25: SEIU Hall, 3340 W. Douglas, Wichita

▪ District 26: Apollo Elementary School, 16158 Apollo St., Goddard

▪ District 27: Maize South Elementary School, 3404 N. Maize Road, Wichita

▪ District 28: Machinists Union Hall, 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

▪ District 29: WSU CAC Theatre, 1845 N. Fairmount, Wichita

▪ District 30: Coleman Middle School, 1544 N. Governeour Road, Wichita

▪ District 31: Bethel College Memorial Hall, 300 27th St., North Newton

▪ District 32: First Christian Church, 904 Alexander, Winfield

▪ District 33b: Pratt Community Center, 619 N. Main, Pratt

▪ District 34b: Kingman County Activity Center, 121 S. Main, Kingman

How it works: After speeches, volunteers will ask participants to declare their presidential preference by standing in groups by candidate.

A candidate must have the support of at least 15 percent of caucusgoers in order to be considered viable. Caucusgoers supporting a candidate with less than 15 percent support will be asked to leave the caucus, join with another candidate, or join with uncommitted caucusgoers.

At stake: Party officials eventually will allocate 33 of Kansas’ 37 delegates based on the caucus results. Eleven will be awarded proportionally statewide, while 22 will be awarded by congressional district. Delegates must reflect caucus results on the first ballot at the party’s national convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

The other four delegates are “superdelegates” and officially unpledged. Democratic delegates are not bound to support any particular candidate, but the people picked are understood to be loyal to the candidates they represent.

More information: www.ksdp.org/caucus-2016

Contributing: Roy Wenzl of The Eagle; Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star

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