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Texas Democratic Caucus FAQ

George Nassar's picture

Whether you voted early in the Texas primary, or are heading out to line up at your precinct voting location today, you'll want to attend your precinct convention later today, where over a third of the state's pledged delegates will be assigned. The caucus process can get a little confusing, so here's a list of the questions we've received most often here at the Blue, along with their answers.

So where am I going to caucus?

You should be able to find the caucus location for your voting precinct posted in your primary voting location today. In most cases, the caucus will be held in the same place, but the polling location will have the caucus site listed if it's not. If you've already early voted (which, of course, you have!), your local county party office should be able to tell you where your voting location is. Many will have posted it online on their web site, most likely on their front page, making your search easy.

You'll need to know your voter precinct within your county as well to get your caucus location. The county elections board will often have an online voter registration search where you can find your precinct number.

If you used your driver's license number when you registered to vote (most people do), you can use the Texas Secretary of State's site to both get your precinct number and a link to your county party website, where you can get more information on where your caucus location is.

So how does this caucus thing work?

Well, let's start at the beginning. You voted in the primary, right? You have to have voted in the Democratic primary to attend your precinct caucus.

So you'll show up tonight at your precinct's caucus location (see the above question for more details on that), before 7:15.

And then, most likely, you'll wait for a bit. You see, the convention starts at either 7:15 or after the last person in line for primary voting has voted, whichever is later. Nothing begins until that last person has voted. And, as you all know, turnout has been off the charts this year. It's possible that the last person to get in line for primary voting before polls close at 7:00pm will have cast their vote at 7:15, but in most precincts, I don't think that's likely. So you'll have a bit of a wait in front of you. Just keep in mind how hard that elections staff works to handle all those people and count yourself lucky that you don't have to do that while you wait. Oh, and bringing a book might help too. Just no campaign material — no electioneering while other people are voting!

The precinct chair will be helping people find the convention location and such at this point, as they are the designated temporary convention chair. (If there is no precinct chair for your location, or he or she can't attend, the county party will usually have asked someone to be temporary chair in their stead — you'll probably want to check with your county party office.)

Once the convention begins, everyone will sign in and state their candidate preference. The first order of business for the convention will be a quick administrative task: everyone will elect a permanent convention chair and a secretary to run the convention. Very often, the temporary convention chair will be chosen to be permanent chair.

And then for the main event: delegate apportionment and selection. When you signed in, you were asked to state a candidate preference. That will be the basis for apportioning delegates; the convention chair will have a handy "EZ math" form for determining how all that works out. Any voters caucusing for candidates that get too few votes to earn a delegate get a chance to change their declared candidate.

Then each candidates' supporters will pick delegates and alternates to go to the county or Senate district convention. Each person will get as many votes as there are delegates for that candidate. Any eligible Democrat in the precinct can be nominated and elected, whether they are in attendance or not.

After the delegates are elected, a delegation chair is elected from them, and the heavy lifting is over.

Well, as far as CNN is concerned, anyway. There's one more thing that can come up before the meeting's adjourned: resolutions. Precinct caucuses are the place to introduce resolutions to be considered for adoption by the state party. Those will get heard, possibly amended, and then voted on after the delegate selection process is done.

And then the convention is adjourned, and you can go home. Of course, you can go home earlier — in fact, you can go home immediately after signing in, and your candidate selection will still count for the purposes of apportionment. But you want to participate in the democratic process, right?

When will final results be out for Texas delegates?

Well, we'll have a good idea of primary results tonight, obviously, and the TDP will have preliminary results for tonight's precinct caucuses on their site. But final apportionment won't happen for a while: precinct delegates will repeat the selection process at their county or Senate district convention on March 29, and then again at the state convention on June 6 and 7.

I've heard the post-primary event called both a caucus and a convention. Which is it?

It's both. The precinct will be holding a convention after the primary voting. At that convention, there will be a caucus for delegates. (There will also, for example, be some time to propose resolutions, as mentioned above.)

So, yes, there will be a convention, and yes, there will be a caucus. "Convention" most accurately describes the entirety of the event, whereas "caucus" most accurately describes the part of that event that the rest of the nation will care about — the actual delegate apportionment.

For more details, check out the Texas Democratic Party's precinct convention FAQ.

I've heard that the caucus designates 25% of delegates. You say that it delegates over a third, and others say they only designate 42 out of 228 — that's less than 20%! I'm confused. Who's right?

Well, we all are. But that doesn't help your confusion any, does it?

Here's how it breaks down:

Texas gets 228 delegates to the national convention. 35 of those are superdelegates, so when we talk about elected delegates, we're talking about the remaining 193.

Of those 193, 126 are chosen in the primary. That's nearly two-thirds of the delegates you get to vote for; that's where we get the one-thirds/two-thirds split we cite.

That leaves 67 delegates whose pledged affiliation is determined by the caucus. So why do some say the caucus only elects 42 delegates?

Would you believe that, again, we're both right?

You see, the caucus results determine how 67 different delegates are pledged — but you only elect 42 of those delegates. The other 25 delegates are preselected by the party, but they still have to vote based on the caucus results. You don't get to choose who they are, but you get to choose how they vote.

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