The Colorado caucus process is one of two ways a person may become a candidate for public office. The other is the petition process, with its own rules and regulations (contact the county election officer or county party chair or the Colorado Secretary of State for details). Although the caucus process is preferred by the Colorado Republican Party, the petition process does offer an alternative for persons to find their way onto the ballot.
The caucus process starts with the precinct caucus. At the precinct caucuses there is a secret straw poll (preference poll) taken to determine which person should represent the Republican Party in the general election. At the precinct caucus delegates to the next voting venue, the county assembly, are elected by voters present. At the county assembly, delegates vote for those they want on the primary ballot for county offices. At the county assembly, delegates,elect other delegates to the various political districts and state convention where these delegates will vote for those they want on the primary ballot for the various political districts and state offices. They also vote for delegates to go to the national convention where delegates vote for that person they want to represent the Republican Party in the general election for President of the United States. Very briefly, the above is the caucus process summarized below:
• Voters choose delegates.
• Delegates vote for candidates to be put on a ballot
• Delegates vote for other venue delegates.
• Voters choose winners.
At the precinct caucus, your vote for a delegate to the county assembly should reflect your desires for which candidates you want on the primary ballot for county offices — offices like county commissioner, assessor, coroner, etc. More broadly, you may choose a delegate that represents your principles of governance because not only will your choice of delegate to the county assembly vote for county candidates to be placed on the primary ballot but, if this delegate wants, he or she may land up as a delegate to the state convention and vote for state level candidates to be put on the primary ballot. Your choice of county assembly delegate may even land up as a delegate to the national convention and vote on the party’s candidate for President of the United States. Therefore, choose wisely at the precinct caucus.
At the precinct caucus there are other perfunctory activities. Caucus chairman and secretary are elected, precinct committee persons are elected, tellers are chosen, voting judges solicited, resolutions are read, and candidates for elected office are advocated.
County assembly and political districts
At the county assembly, the next venue, delegates from the precinct caucus to the county assembly vote for candidates to be put on the primary ballot for county level offices. One item should be remembered, only those candidates that get 30 percent or more of the delegate’s vote go onto the primary ballot.
At the county assembly, delegates will also vote for delegates to the four political district assemblies of which Archuleta County is part:
• 3rd Congressional has 29 counties and is currently represented by Scott Tipton.
• 6th State Senate has eight counties and is currently represented by Ellen Roberts.
• 59th State House has six counties and is currently represented by J. Paul Brown.
• 6th Judicial has three counties and is currently represented by Todd Risberg the DA.
These political district assemblies are normally held in Durango or neighboring counties or, in the case of the 3rd Congressional, at the site of the state convention. Delegates at these four political district assemblies vote for candidates to be put on the primary ballot for district representatives. Again, only those candidates that get 30 percent or more of the delegates’ vote go onto the primary ballot. This cycle, all but the 6th State Senate are up.
A unique process at the 3rd Congressional Assembly occurs when delegates to the national convention are chosen via a 10-second speech in front of the assembly delegates by those wishing to be a delegate to the National Convention.
At the county assembly, delegates also vote for delegates to the next venue, the state convention.
Delegates to the state convention vote in two categories: 1) Delegates choose delegates to the national convention via a usually comedic 20-second presentation to state convention delegates; 2) Delegates at the state convention also choose primary ballot candidates for state offices, e.g. governor, U.S. Senator, etc. None of which are up except for minor state offices. The 30-percent rule applies here also.
At the national convention, delegates choose the party’s presidential candidate. Usually it is obvious who that will be, but, there could be a floor fight. If this happens, remember your vote at the precinct caucus could affect this floor fight. Therefore, choose wisely at the precinct caucus.
One thing I should mention is that following the delegates from one voting venue to another are the resolutions. These party principles and ideologies, initially generated at the precinct caucus, are refined at the county assembly, state convention and national convention and may become part of the party’s platform voted on at the national convention.
Presidential Straw Poll
The Presidential Preference Poll, the so-called straw poll, is a simple concept relatively new in Colorado. This poll will be taken at each precinct caucus via a secret vote. You will get a chance to vote for that person you would like to be your party’s choice for president. However, since it is a straw poll, the results are nonbinding on any delegate to all venues except the national convention where delegates, prior to attending the national convention, shall or shall not “declare” in writing for a particular presidential candidate. Such declaration is binding into the national convention. The straw vote results are also non-binding on the electorate. You can vote for anyone in the general election in November, but this straw poll will point the way to what Colorado wants.
Delegates per venue
In order to understand the willowing process of delegates from one venue to another, below is the number of delegates to each voting venue:
• A total of 100 delegates will go to the Archuleta County assembly from the eight precinct caucuses plus the four officers of the county central committee.
• About 15 to 30 delegates (exact numbers not yet reported due to late reapportionment of districts) from the Archuleta County assembly go to the various political district assemblies.
• 31 delegates from the Archuleta County assembly will go to the state convention
• 33 delegates from the state convention will go to the national convention with three being from the 3rd Congressional District Assembly. Of course there are a few reserved seats for dignitaries.
For each delegate duly elected at all venues, there can be an elected “alternate” delegate who will take the place of a delegate should the duly elected delegate not be able to perform the duties of a delegate.
The Archuleta County Republican Precinct Caucuses will take place on Feb. 7, 2012, promptly at 7 p.m., with the straw poll the first order of business. The locations are listed below by precinct:
• Precinct 1 — County Commissioner’s Meeting Room, Archuleta County Courthouse, 449 San Juan St., Pagosa Springs.
• Precinct 2 — Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St., Pagosa Springs.
• Precinct 3 — Archuleta County Extension Building, 344 U.S. 84, Pagosa Springs.
• Precinct 4 — St. Peters Catholic Church, Colo. 151/CR 975, Arboles.
• Precinct 5 — Pagosa Baptist Church, 10533 W. U.S. 160, Pagosa Springs.
• Precinct 6 — Pagosa Lakes Vista Clubhouse, 230a Port Ave., Pagosa Springs.
• Precinct 7 — Restoration Fellowship, Ed. Building, 264 Village Drive, Pagosa Springs.
• Precinct 8 — Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Gym, 56 Meadows Drive, Pagosa Springs.
Each precinct has a unique location, so be sure you know the precinct in which you live and are registered. A phone call to Archuleta County Clerk June Madrid, 264-8350, will get you your precinct number.
That’s the caucus process. Voters vote for delegates representing their views, delegates vote for other delegates and to put candidates on the ballot. Ultimately, you, the voter, choose whom you want to represent you in all the elected offices. After all, this is a republic with representative government.
One thing to remember, delegates are human beings. Their votes for other delegates, for potential candidates and for resolutions are secret in a majority of venues. Therefore, choose wisely at the precinct caucus.
Remember to vote at your precinct caucus on Feb. 7, 2012. Caucuses will begin promptly at 7 p.m., so get there early to register. You will make a difference.
(Editor’s note: The Colorado Democratic Party Caucus is March 6.)