Friday is deadline for caucus eligibility

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Residents who wish to participate in one the most basic forms of grass-roots democracy need to register their party affiliation with the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office by Friday.

Friday is the deadline for Colorado voters to register with a party and thus participate in the state's caucus system.

The extensive -- and considered by many confusing -- caucus system begins April 13, when the Democratic and Republican parties will hold precinct-level caucuses. Precincts, the smallest political units in the state, hold caucuses that usually take the form of neighborhood meetings during which registered voters of a particular party come together to discuss the candidates and issues they want to appear on their party's platform.

"The precinct caucus process is a grass-roots process that encourages participation at the neighborhood level," Routt County Democratic Party Chairman Ken Brenner said. "It's meant to be inclusive and informal. They're the very best opportunity to have your voice heard."

Anyone can attend a precinct-level caucus, but only registered party members can vote. Attendees must live in the precinct for which the caucus is being held.

Registered voters attending a precinct caucus elect a chairperson to run the meeting, elect someone to record the meeting, elect two people to represent the precinct on that party's county central committee, elect delegates to the county assembly and debate issues or candidates before a formal vote is taken.

Any candidates or issues approved by the precinct caucus get passed on to the county platform committee.

The process repeats itself at the county assembly, where delegates are elected to the state convention. State convention delegates select representatives to the party's national convention and approve the party's statewide candidates.

Routt County has 20 voting precincts, and unlike previous years, the Routt County Democratic Party plans to hold individual caucuses for all 20 precincts. In past years, the party held its caucuses at one site with participating voters breaking into precinct-level groups to make decisions.

Brenner said the party is working to organize each precinct caucus.

Routt County Republican Party Chairman Buck Buckland said representatives of his party also are working to select locations for each precinct caucus.

Despite the confusing nature and significance of the caucus procedure, Buckland said he hopes registered Republicans participate in the grass-roots system.

"Our big objective is to get as much caucus representation in each precinct as possible," Buckland said.

In the absence of having to determine a Republican presidential nominee, the party will focus on other state and county offices up for election this year, as well as state and local issues, he said.

Voters can register with a political party by going to the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office in the Routt County Courthouse. For more information, call the Clerk and Recorder's Office at 870-5556.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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