State Democrats will be part of the ?Super Tuesday? collection of state primaries and caucuses on Feb. 5 while Kansas Republicans will gather Feb. 9 to indicate their preferences for a candidate on the GOP side.
The purpose of the caucuses is to determine how Kansas delegates from the two parties will cast their ballots at their respective national conventions this summer.
A caucus is different from a presidential preference primary in that participants declare their preferences publicly, and electioneering is encouraged at the respective events.
Kansas has held only two presidential preference primaries: in 1980 and 1992. The move to a caucus was determined largely by economics and potential for impact, according to Jim Robb, who teaches political science at Hillsboro High School.
?Primaries are tremendously expensive to run, and the schedule for the Kansas primary was always so late that it never really mattered as far as the collection of delegates for the national convention,? Robb said.
?Oftentimes, then, the state legislature would simply pull the state funding on the political parties and so there was nothing to do. Kansas has since followed the lead of many states that have caucuses, which do not need a whole lot of funding.?
That the two parties are holding their respective gatherings on different days is more an issue of convenience than political positioning, Robb added.
?There are two or three states that do that,? he said. ?I think it has more to do with facilities and kind of wanting to separate the two groupings rather than anything mandated by law or trying to outdo one another.?
The two parties also organize their caucuses differently. The Democrats will hold one gathering in each of the state senatorial districts, while the Repub?li- ?cans offer several locations within each federal representative district?and partici?pants can choose from the myriad locations within their district.
To participate in a Republi?can caucus, you must be registered with that party by Jan. 25. To participate in a Democratic caucus, you can register or change your affiliation even at the door on caucus day.
On Super Tuesday, 24 states are scheduled to hold caucuses or primary elections for one or both parties. So, what kind of influence will Kansas carry on the national scene as a result of the gatherings?
?Kansas doesn?t have very many delegates at either convention simply because we?re a small state,? Robb said. ?We could make a difference in terms of who gets the Democratic nomination, though.
?As a result of Super Tuesday, I think the fate of the Republi?can candidate will be fairly secure just because things are going to shake out that way. I don?t see anything as close as the Clinton-Obama drama that?s shaping up (among Democrats).
?This may be not a typical year in terms of what happens at the convention,? he added. ?I?m old enough to remember past conventions?nobody knew who was going to be the nominee, you had the smoke-filled room and all of that.
?I think there?s going to be just a little bit of that kind of drama this year just because everything is so close. There is no declared front-runner.?
?Kansas Republican Caucus
What is it?
The Kansas Republican caucus will decide who the state?s party will support for the GOP presidential nomination.
When is it?
The caucus will be at 10 a.m., Feb. 9.
Where is it?
A person registered as a Republican by Jan. 25 may attend any caucus in their congressional district. The nearest to Marion County, depending where you live, are as follows:
McPherson Opera House, 219 S. Main, ballroom.
Flint Hills Community Church, 805 Kansas Highway 177, Cottonwood Falls.
Abilene Senior Center, 100 N. Elm.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
? In order to participate in the caucus, you must be a registered Republican by Jan. 25.
? You can attend any caucus in your congressional district.
? Caucus proceedings will get under way at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. You may want to consider arriving prior to 10 a.m. to check in.
? Make sure you bring a state-issued photo ID (i.e. driver?s license) to the caucus. You are welcome to bring your voter registration card as well, but that is not required.
? Electioneering at caucus locations is encouraged. T-shirts, stickers, signs and literature from candidates is allowed. If you choose to pass out information about a specific candidate, please be respectful of other people?s opinions.
? There are no advanced or absentee ballots. In order to cast a vote you must be physically present at the caucus location.
? There is no electing of delegates at the caucus. That is a separate process. The only ballot you will cast is for the Republican presidential candidate of your choice.
? The winner of the caucus will be announced late afternoon or early evening on Feb. 9.
Where can i read more?
The Web address for the Republican Party in Kansas is www.ksgop.org .
Kansas Democratic Caucus
What is it?
The Kansas State Democratic Committee has written a comprehensive delegate selection plan to determine who will represent Kansas in the Democratic National Convention and cast the state?s votes for the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate.
When is it?
Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, beginning at 7 p.m.
Where is it?
One caucus location has been selected for each state senatorial district. The place for Democrats in District 17 will be at the Best Western Inn, 3021 W. U.S. Hwy. 50, Emporia.
How does it work?
The Kansas Democratic State Committee will apportion delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention based on the results of its caucus on Super Tuesday. On that day, voters must be in line by 7 p.m. to participate.
?In order to participate, you must be a registered Democrat. You can register or change your registration status at the door.
?Once inside the caucus, voters will break into groups supporting each candidate. After groups are formed, members of any non-viable candidate groups?those that are comprised of less than 15 percent of the total attendees?are given the opportunity to switch to viable-candidate groups.
?After this final realignment, the number of delegates for each candidate is determined and the results are sent to Kansas Democratic Party headquarters. The groups then elect delegates to represent their candidate at the congressional district convention.
WHERE CAN I READ MORE?
The Web address for the state?s Democratic Party is www.ksdp.org .