Summit County Democrats, worried about disease spread, will meet remotely for caucuses
The Summit County Democratic Party is scheduled to hold caucuses remotely in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus while the Summit County Republican Party will not hold caucuses, dampening what are normally political celebrations as the parties prepare for the campaigns in the fall.
The coronavirus has forced restrictions on gatherings and the county caucuses normally draw crowds toward the beginning of the political season to rally for their parties.
The gatherings were scheduled on Tuesday. The Democrats in Summit County will hold a remote caucus that day while the GOP caucuses have been postponed.
“We’re obviously having to be innovative in how we connect with voters,” said Meredith Reed, the chair of the Summit County Democratic Party.
One of the key actions taken at the caucuses is the selection of delegates to the county convention. Reed said the remote caucus will allow people interested in an appointment as a delegate to fill out a form on the county party’s website.
The names of those vying for a delegate appointment will be published on the website and the delegates will be selected through a vote-by-phone process.
It is an early but important process for the candidates. They want to amass as much delegate support as they can through the caucus with the hopes that they will have broad backing at the county convention.
Candidates attempt to win the nomination outright at the convention, something that avoids a costly, time-consuming primary election and a scenario that allows a candidate to focus on November early.
Someone who wants to take part in the caucus needs to register online at caucus.scdems.org. The deadline is March 23 at noon. The form includes a question regarding whether someone wants to serve as a delegate on the county level. Delegates serve on a geographic basis. Dozens of people had indicated online by midday Thursday they want to become a delegate to the county convention.
Reed said more people had signed up to participate in the caucuses electronically by the middle of the week than have attended in person in previous years.
“People are looking for positive ways to engage,” she said.
The state Republican Party has postponed the caucuses that were scheduled on Tuesday. According to a statement from the party, the delegates selected in the caucuses of 2018 serve until they are replaced. Since the delegate terms are not expired, the people selected as delegates in 2018 will remain in that role this year.
The caucuses were expected to be one of the political highlights of the year, an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to joyously gather as they prepare for a crucial Election Day. The presidential campaign tops the tickets, but congressional, Statehouse and County Courthouse offices are also on the ballot in November. Three of the five seats on the Summit County Council will be decided in November, making 2020 one of the years that a majority of the seats are on the ballot.
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