Q: What happens at a Maine Democratic Caucus?
A: A caucus is a meeting, open to all registered voters of the
party. (You can learn more about how caucuses differ from primaries at this link.)
In presidential election years, one important purpose of the caucus is the presidential preference balloting (see below).
In both presidential and non-presidential year caucuses, other business is also conducted. This can include election of municipal committee members and officers and county committee members, adoption or change of by-laws, and nomination of election clerks.
Elected representatives and candidates often attend caucuses in their districts. It's a good opportunity for them to meet voters and collect signatures for their nomination papers. State candidates can also collect the $5 checks they need to qualify as Clean Elections candidates.
Finally, the caucus brings Democrats in each town together to discuss important platform issues and plan for the coming election season. It's an exciting time!
Q: How does the presidential preference process work?
A: Each municipal Democratic committee is allocated a number of delegates by the Maine Democratic Party. This number is based on the proportion of votes cast for the Democratic candidate for President or Governor in the last general election.
At the municipal caucus, voters may speak for their preferred candidate and urge others to join with them. Caucus goers then indicate their candidate preference, often by standing in different parts of the caucus room. The number of voters for each candidate is tallied, and a preliminary number of delegates is assigned proportionately. After this first round of voting, caucus goers have an opportunity to change their votes. For instance, supporters of candidates who may not have enough votes to get a delegate may decide to switch to another candidate. A second round of tallying determines the number of delegates for each candidate from that municipality.
The supporters of each candidate receiving one or more delegates then choose delegates and alternates to represent their candidate at the State Convention. If you're interested in being a delegate to the State Convention, contact us to learn more. This year's convention will be at the Augusta Civic Center, May 30- June 1. At the State Convention, delegates to the National Convention will be selected.
Q: Who can attend a Maine Democratic Caucus?
A: Caucuses are held by each municipal Democratic committee. Any enrolled Democrat within a municipality can attend the municipal caucus. New voters and unenrolled voters can also attend by registering as Democrats at the caucus. Voters registered as Greens or Republicans must change their registration by Jan. 26, 2008 to participate in this year's Democratic Caucus.
Seventeen-year-olds who will be 18 by Election Day, November 4, 2008 can register as Democrats and participate in the caucus.
Q: Why should I attend my caucus?
A: The caucus is democracy in action! It affords voters an opportunity to participate, choose candidates they want to represent them and discuss issues.
This year, with our wealth of strong candidates, there's no guarantee that it will be "all over" after the Feb. 5 caucuses and primaries. If the race is still close, the Maine caucus will be especially exciting.
Even if the Democratic presidential nominee is nearly certain by Maine's caucus date, it's still worth it to caucus. The delegates you choose to send to the State Convention will reflect your views on important issues, and they'll give you a voice in the party's platform. And there's no better way to kick off this critical campaign year than by gathering with your Democratic neighbors!
Q: OK, I'm convinced. Now where do I go, and when?
A: Our caucus page lists the caucuses for all the towns in Hancock County. If you're in another county, check the MDP caucus page to find your caucus. All of the caucuses take place on Sunday, Feb. 10, in the afternoon and early evening. Caucus times vary by municipality; see the listings for the start time of your caucus.
Q: What if it snows?
A: In the event of severe inclement weather, a municipal caucus may be rescheduled. All caucuses must take place on or before February 24, 2008. We will post any rescheduling info on our caucus page after Feb. 10.
Q: What if I can't attend the caucus?
A: Absentee ballots are available to registered Democrats, and you can request one from the MDP. The ballot will be mailed to you, and must be returned by Feb. 6. You can indicate your presidential preference, and it will be counted in the first round of voting. However, if your candidate doesn't get enough support to earn a delegate from your town, you won't have an opportunity to change your vote. Q: How is the Democratic Caucus different from the Republican Caucus?
A: Party rules for caucuses and delegate selection vary from state to state. In Maine, there a couple of notable differences. Republicans vote their presidential preference by secret ballot, and the delegates selected at their caucuses are not pledged to a specific presidential candidate.
*Frequently Asked Questions. If we haven't answered yours, please email us.