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Old 01-03-2008, 10:53 PM
874 posts, read 1,634,383 times
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I just thought these were terms for the same thing but I was watching the news this morning and they described (for democrats in Iowa) some strange moving around in groups voting thing. Anyway, since Maine has a Caucus instead of a Primary I'm wondering if someone who has experienced both could explain the difference to me so I don't look clueless in February.
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Old 01-03-2008, 11:09 PM
Location: Maryland not Murlin
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Registered voters actually vote in a primary.

Registered voters mainly only show support for a particular candidate in a causus by showing up in numbers instead.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:11 AM
Location: Florida (SW)
38,422 posts, read 18,177,990 times
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Disclaimer: I am not a professor of political science or civics and have never voted in Maine.

Primaries and Caucus' are the party's way of selecting candidates, by electing delegates committed to each candidate, to go to the National Convention to select the eventual candidate.

In a primary, registered voters go to the polls and cast a secret ballot which is counted and the totals announced; very much like a regular election. The polls are open all day like the regular election and you go and vote on the candidate of your choice. Since it is a party function there aren't any bond issues or referendums--just selecting the candidate. The one with the most votes wins the primary and depending on the state, all the delegates to the national convention or a portion of the delegates, based on % of the primary vote they get.

A caucus is not like a regular election. It is more like a meeting of registered party members who show up at the caucus which can be in a public meeting place or a home, at a set time. Everyone is there in the room and they show their support for the candidate of their choice...by standing with other voters who support that candidate and being counted. In the Iowa caucus, the democrats have the additional step of the candidates who have less than 15% of the people present at the caucus are declared "non-viable" and their supporters can move to join their second choice. Then the results of the caucus meetings from across the state are tabulated to get the totals.

I have never participated in a caucus state, so my knowledge isnt Maine specific and not first hand. It is more what I learned in civics years and years ago, as refreshed by CNN.

Good Luck! Believe me you will not look like a fool. The campaigns, the parties and the news will provide lots of instructions.

Our election process from caucuses and primaries and conventions and electoral college votes, is very complex--designed by the founders to express the will of the majority while protecting the rights of all the various minorities and constituencies...such as urban vs. rural, big states vs. small states. When you see what is happening in Kenya this week, you can appreciate the orderliness of our chaotic and confusing process!

Last edited by elston; 01-04-2008 at 07:44 AM..
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:28 AM
443 posts, read 1,903,788 times
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So Maine's primary is in Feb?
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:29 AM
Location: Corinth, ME
2,712 posts, read 4,914,210 times
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Elston, I think you explained it quite well. So Maine is a caucus state? didn't know that... though I have caucused elsewhere.

No one need worry about looking foolish, though, believe me. I ended up as a delegate to a state party convention one year and was quite surprised to find out how many -- even at that level -- seemed to have NO CLUE about how to deal with a meeting run by Roberts Rules of Order! I think the Chair spent more time dealing with "out of order" than business. LOL Now, I am not a political animal but I would have figured that we all learned that in high school... but I guess not.

So I guess all I have to say is if you feel "clueless" in any regard in our political process, jump in anyway... you will have lots of company and folks who will teach you the ropes as well.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:49 AM
Location: Florida (SW)
38,422 posts, read 18,177,990 times
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A note of correction to my long post.....the founders didn't design the caucus/primary procedure. The constitution doesn't mention political parties. Elections and the electoral college are the work of the founders. They didn't address the issue of how parties select their candidates...and perhaps didn't anticipate the party system.

Last edited by elston; 01-04-2008 at 07:50 AM.. Reason: grammar and meaning
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:34 AM
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Maine is a caucus state. The Republican caucus was last weekend and the Democratic caucus will be on February 10th, Sunday. I have participated in the Maine caucus and it is fun and easy. You are instructed to stand in a certain part of the room depending on who you support (in Portland we were sent to certain rooms in the high school based on our neighborhood). If a candidate has less than 15% of the share, then those people can join a more viable candidate. Take part if you can - you can absentee vote for the caucus if you can't make it, but I believe the due date is today, February 6th. Every person matters a lot with the Maine caucus - your presence could really help shift the ratio. I know that I will be showing up (with others) to support Obama.
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