On Saturday, March 26th at 10a neighbors will be gathering to participate in the Democratic Caucus in Washington State. There they will cast their support for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know to participate in this process.
Validate your voter registration
In Washington, any registered voter can participate in a caucus. Start by validating your registration to ensure your name and address are correct. If the address is incorrect, that site will allow you to change it.
Not registered to vote? You can fix that right here.
Find your caucus location
Caucuses are local events near you, not in some far-flung corner of Olympia. To find your caucus location, fill out this simple form at the Washington State Democrats’ website. This will also pre-register you for the caucus. The site may ask you to print out a pre-registration form. If you are unable to do so, don’t worry about it! Pre-registration (and the form they want you to print after doing so) is entirely optional and is in no way required to attend the caucus.
If you have problems finding your caucus location on the website, I encourage you to contact the WA Democratic Party for assistance.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the caucus on March 26th at 10a. Block off at least 2 hours.
Show up and caucus!
It sounds intimidating, but it’s really easy even for us introverted techies. Just show up at your caucus location on Saturday, March 26th at 10a. There will be someone from the Washington Democratic party there, probably with Starbucks coffee and Top Pot donuts, to walk you through the details, but it basically amounts to raising your hand for the candidate of your choice. Before the vote you have the opportunity to discuss your candidate with others present, but your only real requirement is raising your hand for your candidate.
That’s it, all there is to it!
Can’t make the caucus?
If you are unable to make the caucus for religious, military, or work reasons, or have a disability or illness that prevents you from attending the caucus, you can fill out and mail in a surrogate form. When filling out the form you can use the voter validation website to confirm the exact spelling of your name as it is registered.
I’ll point out that the 2016 Washington State Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan in no way specifies what counts as “observance of my religion”. I leave it to you to apply that phrase to your life however you see fit.
Note that the surrogate form must be received no later than 5p Friday, March 18th so get that done sooner rather than later if necessary.
Washington state also has a primary, why should we caucus?
From the Washington Secretary of State’s 2016 Presidential Primary FAQ:
The political parties retain the authority to decide if they will use the Presidential Primary to allocate delegates to the national nomination conventions. The political parties may also use caucus results, or a combination of primary results and caucus results.
The Republican Party will use the Presidential Primary results to allocate 100% of their convention delegates. The Democratic Party will not use the Primary Election results to allocate any of their delegates. They will rely solely on the results of their Precinct Caucuses on March 26th.
So for Democrats the caucus is your one and only chance to select between the two candidates.
Two good candidates, only one President
We Democrats are fortunate to have two good candidates running for President this year, but only one of them gets the job. If you’re passionate about which one it should be, participating in your local primary or caucus is your most direct method of voicing that opinion. I encourage you to participate!
Post updated 2016/02/27 @ 2215 with additional information based on submitted questions.
19 thoughts on “Everything you need to know to participate in the WA Democratic Caucus”
What if I’m a Washington state resident away at school in Oklahoma? Can I still fill out the surrogate form?
Good question. I consider that falling under the “work schedule” part of the surrogate form eligibility, but can’t state the official position of the WA Democratic Party who makes the rules.
I’ve sent them an email to clarify that and will update the post with the information when I hear back.
Also, remember to update your voter record mailing address by October 10th to ensure you will get your mail-in ballot for the November 8th election in time!
Greg Haffner with the WA Democrats replied to my question and said:
Now, if you have to work that day and thus were unable to come home to caucus because of that, it sounds like that would be a valid justification.
I filled out the form, but never got an ADDRESS for the caucus. I am new to the Centralia area (yes, I changed my registration) . Lewis County is heavily Republican, and no one seems to be able to tell me where the Democratic Caucus meets – can you please tell me?? Also – the form I filled out wanted me to print it out, and I have no printer. I am retired, and live on a very small income, so cannot afford a printer. That is simply a dumb thing to require.
I would suggest contacting the WA Democratic party directly to get assistance finding the address for your local caucus. The linked page contains both a contact form you can fill out for an email response and a phone number you can call. I assume they would be more than happy to help an interested voter participate in the process.
Don’t worry about the form they asked you to print! Pre-registration (and the form they want you to print after doing so) is entirely optional and is in no way required to attend the caucus.
Since we also have a primary, why should we caucus?
Great question! The reason you should participate in the Democratic caucus is that the Democrats ignore the WA state primary results to determine their candidate:
That’s really annoying and inconvenient. >:(
But thanks for letting us know.
Thanks for this!
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Can I just vote & leave?
I know who I’m voting for.
Must I stay for both votes?
Sounds like this can take all day.
I don’t understand caucus.
We had primary for years.
All you had to do is vote.
The caucus should take no longer than 2 hours. Voting happens after everyone is signed in and the precinct captain explains the rules. You can see the full caucus agenda for the full process.
My daughter will be 18 in July and will vote in November. Is she eligible to caucus now?
The only requirement to attend the caucus is to be a registered voter. In Washington state, you can register to vote as long as you will be 18 by the time of the election. In short: as long as she is registered to vote, she is eligible to caucus.
My husband and I both want to participate in the caucus, but we have a 10 year-old daughter. Can we bring her to the caucus and just let her read on the sidelines?
I don’t know but I’ve sent an email to my contact at the WA Democratic Party and will let you know what I hear back.
That was a quick response: you may definitely bring your daughter!
Reading between the lines I would assume that kids of any age can come to the caucus, but only those young adults who are going to be 18 by the November election and are registered to vote can actually participate.
I would like to come and vote, but am unable to because I have a daughter and taking her for the caucus part does not feel appropriate to me, not knowing the issues that will be brought up. Am I able to come and turn in my sign in sheet with my vote and leave? Otherwise, I will be unable to partake and that does not seem fair. Thanks
To participate in the caucus you would need to stay until after the voting is finished, which would happen after any discussion. While only you can decide what is appropriate content for your daughter, I would expect discussions to be civil and largely focus around the platform differences and characters of the two candidates.
If you are still concerned about bringing her, your best bet is to find childcare for a couple of hours.