Presidential caucuses: A how-to in democracy

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Presidential caucuses will be held in Manhattan on Saturday. The Democrats will caucus at Anthony Middle School while the Republicans will caucus at Manhattan High School.

For the Democratic caucus, doors open at 1 p.m. Voting begins at 3:30 p.m. and will finish around 5:30 p.m.

Voting is conducted by physically joining the candidate’s group. A candidate must receive at least 15 percent to be considered viable, Michael Gassmann, chairman of the Riley County Democratic Party, said.

If a candidate does not receive 15 percent of the vote, his or her supporters are given the option to join another candidate’s group or to excuse themselves from the caucus.

People who have not yet registered to vote may participate in the Democratic caucus, provided they register at the caucus. Voters do not have to provide proof of citizenship to vote in the Democratic caucus, but they must to vote in the November general election, Gassmann said.

To speed up the process, especially for those who registered after Jan. 15, Gassmann said voters can pull up or print off proof of registration from the Kansas Secretary of State website. The voter registration card from the county clerk is also sufficient.

Parking space will be limited, Gassmann said, with space at the school reserved for the elderly and those with disabilities. There will be shuttles to provide transportation to and from the satellite parking at Farm Bureau Financial Services.

The Republican caucus will take place at Manhattan High School. The doors will open for check-in at 9:30 a.m. and voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Eileen King, chairwoman of the Riley County Republican Party.

King said those who wish to participate in the caucus must bring some form of government-issued identification, such as a valid driver’s license or passport, and they must be verified as a registered voter on the caucus list in order to vote.

Those who wish to attend the caucus but are not registered to vote may attend to hear the speeches or simply for the experience of attending a caucus, King said.

King said she does not anticipate Fake Patty’s Day will have much of an impact on voter turnout.

“I’ve never been to Fake Patty’s Day,” King said. “I’ve heard about it and read about it, but I don’t think, because of the time of the caucus, that it will be a hindrance. Students can come vote, then go out.”

Gassmann said once the Democratic caucus gets over at 5:30 p.m., there will still be time for people to participate in the weekend festivities.

“Everybody that’s serious about caucusing is going to come and caucus, then go to Fake Patty’s Day,” Gassmann said.

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Hey there! I'm Danielle Cook. I'm currently a freshman in journalism and mass communications. I live for telling true stories, so I hope to be doing it for the rest of my life. Luckily, I also live for late nights and early mornings – as long as there's coffee and I'm in good company.