Summit County caucuses, grass-roots politics, set for Tuesday
March 18, 2016
The Democrats and Republicans in Summit County on Tuesday are scheduled to gather in caucuses, an important early date on a political calendar that will stretch through November as local, state and federal candidates vie for positions on the ballot and, later, for Election Day victories.
The Democratic events are scheduled from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The Park City-area gathering is at Ecker Hill Middle School while the East Side sites are North Summit Middle School and South Summit Middle School. The caucus-goers will select delegates to the county and state political conventions.
People who want to vote in the presidential caucus, which will be held during the party gatherings, must tell the organizers they intend to be a registered voter on Election Day in November. Anyone can attend.
The Summit County Democrats will also select precinct chairs and vice chairs. The Democrats will choose delegates to the county and state conventions. Up to 77 delegates to the state convention will be selected based on the population of Summit County. No delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be selected at the county convention.
The Republican caucuses are scheduled from 7 p.m. until approximately 9 p.m. Sites are Park City High School, South Summit High School and North Summit High School.
Republicans will also choose precinct chairs and vice chairs as well as delegates to the county and state conventions. Anyone may attend, but only registered Republicans may participate. Someone may register as a Republican at the caucus sites.
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Forty-seven delegates to the state convention will be selected, but none will be selected for the Republican National Convention.
Caucus night is one of the top political events of the year for the local parties during even-numbered years, when County Courthouse, Statehouse and federal seats are on the ballot. Candidates mill about to chat with the party loyalists and there are sometimes political signs outside the room as well palm-pressing opportunities and chances for photos. State-level political figures sometimes make appearances at the Summit County caucuses to rally the party faithful.
The local caucuses have long been seen as one of the opportunities for rank-and-file voters to become involved in the political process at the grass-roots level. The candidates encourage their supporters to attend the caucuses, which are scheduled early in the election season, and become delegates to county and state conventions.
Amassing supporters early could be critical as the election season moves forward. A candidate can avoid a primary election if they have enough delegate support at the county or state party conventions. Those are the delegates who are selected at the caucuses. The county conventions are scheduled in April.
Securing a party’s nomination without needing to campaign in a primary can be crucial since it allows a candidate to focus on the opposing party through Election Day instead of attempting to fend off someone from their own party to win the nomination. It also provides fundraising opportunities since a candidate has already won the party’s nod and does not need to spend campaign funds on a primary contest.
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