Kentucky Republicans will make history early next year when they break tradition with the customary presidential primary in May and instead cast votes for their party’s nominee at a March caucus.
This is new territory for everyone involved — voters, party leaders, election officials and the candidates. State Republican leaders agreed to a caucus so Rand Paul can seek re-election to the U.S. Senate will also running for president. State law does not allow a candidate’s name to appear more than once on a ballot.
Aside from the most important business of that day, which is to determine the state’s pick from a large field of GOP presidential candidates,
Republicans will have an opportunity to make a statement about their civic engagement and their party’s rise in state politics. It would be in the best interest of the party to do everything possible to educate Republicans about how they participate in the presidential caucus.
The fact that Republicans will vote in a March caucus run mainly by party officials while Democrats will vote in the May primary overseen by county election officials means we should have — for the first time in anyone’s memory — a better picture of the percentage of voter turnout by party.
It was never impossible to calculate turnout by party in the primaries, but it would be a laborious process and has never been a routine report put out by county election officials. Now, with the two parties voting separately, it will be easier to discern if they exhibit vastly different voting habits.
At the March 5 caucus, Republicans will be able to vote between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Party officials will be in charge of the process, and it’s likely paper ballots will be used. The ballots will be counted by the county parties and reported to state party.
Caucus locations in the southern Pennyrile will be the James E. Bruce Convention Center for Christian County, the Millikan Memorial Community House for Todd County and the Trigg County Middle School gym for that county.
Unlike a primary election run by county officials at the individual precincts, the county caucuses will be more like political gatherings. Voters can expect to find food being served and opportunities to linger and talk. However, the paper ballots will remain secret.
It’s going to be interesting to see how well local and state Republican leaders educate members of the party about the caucus process. They’ll have a pretty good idea how it went when they see how many Republicans are present for the caucus.
Kentucky New Era