With the exception of the Republican Party Precinct Caucus Feb. 20, March starts the lengthy process for each major party to choose one presidential party candidate to vie for the 45th U.S. presidential office this November.

The Democratic presidential Precinct Caucus will be held March 26 at 10 a.m. Key Peninsula registered voters are in the 26th Legislative District, precincts 315 through 323. All KP precincts meet individually at Key Peninsula Middle School. The three digit number following “LD 26” on a voter’s registration card is the precinct number they will vote in.

George Robison, 26th Legislative District Democratic Chairman, said, “The purpose of a caucus is to determine voter preference for a Democratic Party candidate for President and to elect delegates to the Legislative District Caucus and county convention … resolutions to the county or state party may also be submitted.”

Precinct caucuses begin at 10:30 when voters sign-in and select their preferred candidate. Doors will be open to latecomers, but those arriving after the first vote will not be able to vote later. Childcare is not provided, but children may attend with their parents.

Each side “will have an opportunity to try to convince the other side to change their minds,” said Robison. “Then each person casts a final vote to determine the apportionment of the delegates (for each candidate).” Voters who leave before this second vote have no say in who the delegates are for their candidate.

“Voters at the caucus have two opportunities: one is to state which candidate they prefer, and the other is to vote for someone (from their precinct) who prefers the same candidate to be a delegate to the next caucus or convention,” said Robison. “And the only way they can vote for that person who agrees with them is if they (stay) to cast their vote.”

Individual precinct caucuses vary in length. Each must take at least 30 minutes and can continue for hours, but must end by 2 p.m., when the event officially concludes.

“Every step of the process is basically democratic, governed by a desire to have a democratic vote,” said Robison, who has logged decades of service to the Democratic Party.

A representative of the Democratic Party will be on-site during the caucus. On the KP that person is Judy Austin, precinct 26-317.

Voter turnout is expected to be higher than 2012. “Probably the same as 2008, and that was very large,” said Robison. “The whole system strives to give a voice to the people who show up to vote. And that’s the reason it is important for people to participate in the caucus.”

Anyone not registered in his or her precinct but wanting to vote can register at the caucus. Anyone reaching the age of 18 by Nov. 8, 2016, can vote at the caucus.

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