Everything You Wanted to Know About Caucuses but Were Too Uninterested to Ask


What important event is taking place on February 27, 2024?

Minnesota precinct caucuses at 7:00 PM.

How often do they occur?

Caucuses occur every 2 years in an even year. The date is set by the major party chairs and reported to Secretary of State. Sometimes they are in March.

What is this event?

The precinct caucus system is the first step in the process that adapts the principles of a political party, selects party officers, endorses candidates for state and national offices, and selects delegates to the state and the national conventions. 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 and exchange ideas, like at neighborhood meetings. The rights of all participants should be treated with fairness and respect.

Why should I attend?

You don’t want to be left out of being informed. Precinct officers, who are the first people candidates contact when they come to your town, will be elected to serve a 2 year term, delegates will be elected to attend the annual Basic Political Organization Unit ( BPOU) convention for the next 2 years. This is usually held in each county but is sometimes organized differently in other parts of the state. Attendees may participate in a gubernatorial straw poll, election judges (a paid position), poll challengers and other volunteers will be recruited. Additions and changes to party principles will be discussed. The most fun part is the presentation of resolutions by the attendees. It is fun to follow the resolutions to see how far they go in the political process. Sometimes they are identified at the national conventions.

Where do I attend?

All precinct locations will be published in the local newspapers. You may call the county auditor or go to www.caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us to ask for information.

How do I know what precinct I am in?

Go to http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us to find your precinct.

What party caucus do I attend?

If you are in major agreement with the principles of a particular party and you have either voted or affiliated with the party in the last general election or you intend to vote with the party in the next election, then, that is your party. This year Minnesota recognizes the caucuses of the 2 major parties, Republican Party of Minnesota and Minnesota DFL.

Who will be there?

Attendees will be neighbors who live in your precinct, candidates seeking your vote, students fulfilling class social study projects.

What do I bring?

Bring a notebook and pen. Have resolutions written down to transfer onto the official resolution forms, which if passed, go to the BPOU level or the district level or even the state level. Prepare to state your resolution and defend it. A pan of bars and cookies is a nice neighborhood gesture but not required.

How important is the event?

Only 3% of people attend a caucus and make important decisions for the entire state. When you see the election hoopla on TV remember that a small amount of people made those decisions for you. Also, you earn the right to talk politics and actually sound credible.

What time do they begin?

All caucuses begin at 7:00 PM and must stay open for at least one hour. Lively discussions keep them open till much later.

Will I be busy that night?

No, you will have time on your hands. Minnesota statute states all government sponsored events have to end by 6:00 PM, therefore, no city council meetings, no school board meetings, no firemen drills, no sports events.

How can I help out at my caucus?

The convener, already chosen, will offer you opportunities to help. You can take official notes, tally ballots, be a greeter, help set up the room. Don’t forget to submit your name for delegate or alternate to future county, district and state conventions.

Who can participate?

People who live in the precinct, eligible to vote, are 18 or older at the time of the general election- November 5, 2024, must not have participated in another party’s caucus that evening, and signed in on an official registration form my participate. Anyone can attend and be an observer.

Will there be a straw ballot?

Not officially. There is a Presidential Primary on March 5, 2024. Your caucus may do their own straw ballot.

What is a resolution?

It is a suggestion of something you would like to see changed. If passed by the caucus attendees your resolution is forwarded to the resolutions committee of the county(BPOU) convention or your legislative district convention which are both held in the spring time. If it is adapted there, the same process is repeated at the state convention. Resolutions presented at the precinct level can become part of your party’s state platform.

Can I get involved in certain campaigns?

Yes, the opportunity is there to volunteer to help with a favorite candidate’s campaign. There will be sign up sheets for campaigns and literature to convince you to help certain people.

When does Minnesota have a primary?

The opportunity to vote in a primary is in August. It is a closed primary which means you must vote all one party for every office on the ballot. It has its advantages and disadvantages.

Why isn’t Minnesota’s primary as important as other primaries?

Minnesota has always focused on caucuses as the grass roots beginning. This is where it all begins for Minnesota. You earn the right to talk politics at the caucus and get involved first hand. Minnesota's primary, in August, is too late in the campaign season to create a hub-bub. It is a help to local campaigns.

When can I vote in the general election?

When you are informed, at least 18 years old by November 5, 2024, a U.S. citizen, and on or before election day. Call the county auditor for information on a ballot.

What happens after caucuses?

This could be a long answer but people can go politically far. People work on campaigns and can advance there, caucus delegates and alternates attend the annual BPOU, in their county, or the district convention in their congressional district or the state convention held in a place in Minnesota. This happens between February and June. It is at the district conventions that delegates are elected to the national conventions. Unfortunately national conventions are only held in presidential election years. Getting involved in a gubernatorial year gets a person known for one's dedication and hard work to the party so they have a better chance to be chosen to go to the national convention.

Is it a fun event?

Conversations with neighbors fill the meeting place. It is a fulfilling and educational event. It explains how our complicated political system works so more people become involved in it. Without this learning opportunity it is hard to understand the inside of politics. This is the starting point. You will complain less and enjoy politics more perhaps giving you more confidence to hold party chairman seats or run for elected office. It connects neighbors and neighborhoods and is a great opportunity for volunteering. It pulls the entire political picture together for you.

March 5 will be the Presidential Primaries