29 Feb

Alaskans can help pick the next Democratic presidential candidate, but not on Super Tuesday

If you’re an Alaskan who’s feeling the Bern, are ready for Hillary or voting for Rocky, then you will want to know how to caucus on March 26. Sure, Super Tuesday is soaking up a lot of attention. But your participation on March 26 is crucial to ensuring you and the state we love are heard when recommending the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee to the rest of the country. With all the excitement for the Democratic candidates, we are expecting a large turnout this year. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to be a part of history that only comes around every four years.

So how does the presidential nominating process work? Democrats across the country choose our party’s nominee for president of the United States through a series of caucuses and primaries. The first caucus was held in Iowa on Feb. 1, and the last primary will be held on June 14 in Washington, D.C. In July, delegates to the Democratic National Convention will elect our party’s nominee.

In Alaska, this year’s Democratic Presidential Caucus will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 26 in 34 locations throughout the state. You can find your caucus location and preregister online at akdems.org/caucus-locations. If you’re not a registered Democrat yet, don’t worry. You can update your voter registration by going to the Division of Elections online or in person, visiting our Anchorage headquarters at 2602 Fairbanks St., or registering at the door on the day of the caucus.

Caucusing is a fun way to get involved in grass-roots activities with the Alaska Democratic Party. Alaskans gather with their neighbors in schools, community centers and homes across our state to help select our party’s nominee.

Alaska Democrats will have three candidates to choose from: Hillary Clinton, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and Bernie Sanders. Each of these candidates is committed to a thriving future where everyone has a fair shot. Each supports ensuring access to affordable and quality health care. And each understands that we must continue to support and train our military to meet the challenges of 21st-century threats while leveraging our diplomatic strength to protect Americans. I encourage you to take some time to study each of the candidates, their positions and their proposals between now and the caucus.

When you arrive at your designated caucus location, you will have the opportunity to vote for the presidential nominee of your choice by forming presidential preference groups; a process known as a “fan out.” At that time, you will have the ability to stand with your neighbors in support of your preferred candidate or to declare yourself as uncommitted. This is as simple as standing in a part of the room that’s been designated for your candidate. Now, if your group does not achieve a minimum of 15 percent, then you will be asked to realign — a process during which you can join another group.

After voting is completed, you may want to consider getting more involved with the presidential selection process and the party. Alaska Democrats will elect over 500 delegates to the state convention in proportion to the votes each candidate received. From there, delegates and alternates will be elected to cast their vote in person at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this July. You can find more information about becoming a delegate and sign up for our next delegate selection workshop at our website: www.akdems.org.

I hope you’ll join us for the 2016 Alaska Democratic Caucus on Saturday, March 26 at 10 a.m. to be a part of history and help select our party’s nominee for president of the United States.

Casey Steinau lives in Big Lake and is chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.

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