WY caucus season kicks off
Business as usual for GOP caucus, but a change of procedure for Dems
February 27, 2020
Caucus season is upon us and, for the Crook County Republican Party, choosing a candidate for president will be business as usual. For their Democratic counterparts, however, this election season will introduce a whole new system of casting your ballot.
“Ranked choice voting is done in many different places all across the country,” says Randy Leinen, chairman of the Crook County Democratic Party.
“It gives a person the opportunity to cast a meaningful ballot on numerous rounds.”
The process begins with mail-in votes, Leinen says; registered Democrats will this week begin to receive a ballot in the mail that they can choose to send back to central office in Cheyenne using the enclosed envelope.
“Those will be held and counted on April 4. They have to be postmarked by March 20,” says Leinen.
“If you choose not to send in by mail or don’t meet the March 20 deadline, you can drop your sealed ballot off with representatives from the local Democratic Party at the Sundance State Bank meeting room on March 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.”
All votes handed in on March 28 will be sealed and placed in a ballot box, to be scanned and sent to central headquarters on April 4, the day of the caucus itself. Wyoming will not be using the app to calculate votes that caused troubles for Democratic voters in Iowa.
“We have a company out of Washington State that is taking care of the counting of the ballots and everything else like that,” Leinen confirms.
On April 4, the ranked choice voting will open for members of the Democratic Party who did not vote by mail.
“On the day of the caucus, again, it will be ranked choice voting and everyone will get a ballot. Those will be scanned and sent to Cheyenne and all of those will be tabulated and the results sent back to us. We have to have our voting done and all our ballots scanned and sent to Cheyenne by noon on April 4,” he says.
The new system is similar to a live caucus, says Leinen, but will not involve dividing up the room to have voters sit in groups according to their chosen candidate.
Instead, he says, “A voter will be able to vote for their first favorite candidate, their second favorite candidate [and so on], up to five.”
In the opening round, every voter’s first choice of candidate will be counted and all candidates who receive at least 15% of the votes will earn delegates. If some candidates have not received 15% of the vote, the candidate with the lowest percentage will be eliminated.
Voters who chose the eliminated candidate as their favorite will have their second choice counted for the next round. This process will be repeated, moving down the five names on each voter’s ballot, until all candidates remaining have at least 15% of the vote.
Candidates will then earn a proportional share of delegates based on the percentage each candidate received in the final tally.
Leinen points out that it does not increase the chance of success for your favorite candidate to vote for the same person across the board. In fact, he warns, it only limits your ability to have a say.
Leinen reminds Democrats that, “In order to vote by mail, you have to be registered as a Democrat by March 10. In order to vote on March 28 or April 4, you have to be registered Democrat by March 20.”
The Wyoming Democratic Party hopes that the new system will have an impact on political involvement.
“People don’t always want to come to a caucus,” Leinen says. “One of the big hopes for this is that the State of Wyoming will increase participation by registered Democrats by mailing these out and doing it on ranked choice.”
Crook County’s Republicans will not be experiencing much change at this year’s caucus, says Roger Connett, Chairman.
“It’s no change from what we’ve been doing,” he says of the overall process.
“We’re doing it in the courthouse basement on March 7 at 1 p.m. and that is for all the precincts to hold their caucus. They will all be separated out on separate tables,” says Connett.
At time of going to press, no Republican candidate had declared they would stand against President Donald Trump, but “that doesn’t mean there won’t be,” Connett says.
The caucus will include platforms, resolutions and discussions within precinct groups as well as selection of presidential candidate and delegates for that candidate.