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What is the purpose of State Caucuses and Primary Elections ?

Updated on January 3, 2012

Well folks it time for the four year election circus to start and with that comes a lot of questions about the United States election process. We have all been bombarded with Republican Debates, and hours of conversations about the upcoming State Caucuses and Primary Elections.

The purpose of these events is so that each political party can select a nominee fairly at their National Conventions. Caucuses are private events paid for by the particular party looking for their nominee. So for example, the upcoming Republican Iowa caucus is paid for by the Republican Party. However, not all states use the caucus method to select Presidential candidates some States such as Virginia use the Primary Election method.

Primary Elections are state run where potential candidates have to submit petitions to the states that hold these elections to be on the ballot. So for example, in VA if you want to be on the ballot you need to have at least 10,000 signatures and must include 400 signatures from each Congressional District as well. Once on the ballot, registered voters go to their local polling place and select which candidate that they think is best.

Once all the voting is done either through a caucus format or primary the votes for all the different candidates are counted and then turned into "delegates". Each party has a set number of delegates. Delegates are registered and active party members who go to the National Convention and vote for their party's candidate. Each party has their own number of delegates and divides them based on their specific party rules. Once, all the delegates are divided they go in turn to their National Convention and vote. After all the voting is done at the convention the candidate with the most votes is the winner of their Party's Nomination and will go on to represent them in the General Election.

While, this is a crazy process it does insure that,we the voters are fairly represented at these conventions. So, when the caucuses come to your town or Primary Elections happen make sure that your voices are heard. Vote!!!! After all, people have fought, sacrificed and died for this process in order to keep our system, warts and all, free and fair.


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