Election season is gearing up once again with the fast-approaching primaries. Most of us may remember learning about various processes of the government from a Schoolhouse Rock video. They don’t have any videos on primaries and caucuses, but we’re happy to debrief you!
The election starts off with caucuses. A caucus is an event organized by a political party to choose a delegate for the national convention. Candidates are elected by the state’s delegates and only state-recognized parties can hold caucuses. Iowa, despite being the most visual caucus, is not the only one.
Iowa has been the first to vote since 1968. The chaos that came with the assassinations of MLK Jr., Robert Kennedy and our involvement in the Vietnam War, the Democratic party created the McGovern-Fraser Commission to improve the nomination process by ensuring transparency.
Nevada, the American Samoa, North Dakota, Wyoming, Guam and the Virgin Islands also hold caucuses.
Although candidates chosen at the caucuses are usually not elected into the Presidential Office, this process is important because it provides insight as to who the voters are truly interested in heading into the election.
Primaries or Primary Elections are like a second kick for the election process before the National Conventions and the official election in November. Primaries are a much more local process that are organized by state and local governments.
The Senate elections place two senators in the Senate for a six year term. One seat is for regularly-scheduled elections and the other is for a special election, which can be used to fill a seat if there is a vacancy.They are intended to narrow down candidates for general and local elections, and there are different kinds:
- Open Primaries are elections where a voter does not have to be affiliated with the party holding the election to go and vote. There are 22 states that have open primaries for congressional and state level offices.
- Closed Primaries are primary elections where a voter has to be affiliated to participate and vote. In 14 states, and the District of Columbia, there are closed primaries for congressional and state level offices.
- Semi-Closed Primaries, which are also known as hybrid primaries, are elections where voters who aren’t registered can vote but they cannot be members of the opposing party. There are 15 states that use semi-closed primaries.
- Top two Primaries are where all candidates are listed on the same ballot regardless of their party affiliation which occurs in Washington, California, and Nebraska.