COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The 2016 presidential election cycle begins in less than a month with the Iowa caucus. The Colorado caucus follows soon thereafter, but many voters might not even know what exactly the caucus entails.
The Colorado caucus system was established in 2002. This year it will be held on Tuesday, March 1. It’s primarily geared toward committed voters for both parties.
The caucus is the first step in nominating a presidential candidate. However, the process is multi-tier and fairly complex.
In the state of Colorado, the presidential nominee is decided through a caucus system as opposed to a primary election. In a primary election, all registered voters simply fill out a ballot choosing their nominee. The caucus system is much more complex.
“The caucus process is a representative form of government,” said Daniel Cole, the executive director for the El Paso County Republicans. “On March 1st, we elect delegates, who elect delegates who vote on who the presidential nominee should be.”
Essentially, at the caucuses, voters aren’t choosing a presidential candidate but rather delegates they want representing their party in voting for a certain nominee.
“Then you select delegates to go to the next convention, which would be the county convention here in Colorado,” said Josh Dunn, a political science professor at University of Colorado Colorado Springs. “So you select delegates based on how much support each individual candidate gets in your caucus.”
Those delegates then move through the county, state and national conventions.
“At caucus everybody says ‘I want so and so’ or ‘I want so and so’ and then people have a chance to try and persuade other people to change their mind and vote for their candidate,” said Annie Schmitt, the executive director of the El Paso County Democratic Party.
So why the long complicated caucus system as opposed to the straightforward primary?
“People who support the caucus system say that it gives the grassroot, really involved active people a greater voice in choosing the nominee,” said Cole.
“It’s a neat way for people to get involved,” said Schmitt. “It is time-consuming, there is a lot of planning that goes into this, but it really does allow people to participate.”
Monday was the last day to register for the Colorado caucuses. But if you haven’t registered to vote yet, go to govotecolorado.com .