What voters should know before Utah's presidential preference caucus
Deseret News/Shutterstock composite photo
SALT LAKE CITY — Democratic and Republican party leaders are expecting a large turnout for Tuesday's neighborhood caucus meetings in what they're saying could be an influential vote.
Following a weekend when four of the five main presidential candidates visited Utah, voters in the Beehive State are excited that their participation could impact which candidates land on the ballot in November, said Cindie Quintana, the state Republican Party's director of communications.
Having a caucus in March instead of a primary in June "makes Utah a more competitive and influential state," state GOP Chairman James Evans said.
Caucus meetings are different from a primary election because voters elect delegates to represent them at county or state conventions.
Here's what voters need to know heading into Utah's first presidential preference caucus.
When and where?
Caucus meetings will be held Tuesday. Democrats will gather at neighborhood meeting places from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Republican meetings are scheduled to run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Caucus locations are different from polling places. Voters can find their neighborhood caucus location at vote.utah.gov. There are 2,100 Republican meeting sites, and 90 locations for Democrats.
Who can participate?
Registered voters and those who will be 18 before the election in November are eligible to participate in neighborhood caucuses.
Democrats welcome all registered voters to their caucuses, but the GOP requires all participates to be registered as Republicans. Party affiliation can be changed at the caucus meetings.
How does voting work?
Democrats are using paper ballots at caucus meetings, and party leaders say anyone in line by 8:30 p.m. will be able to vote.
Republican voting at caucus meetings closes at 9 p.m., but those who registered for online voting can do so from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Because each location is different and there could be record voter attendance, Republican leaders say lines could be long. Quintana said the party has instructed each precinct to recruit twice as many volunteers as they have in past years.
When are votes counted?
The Utah Democratic Party plans to update results throughout the night on its website, utahdemocrats.org.
The official delegate distribution will be announced at 8 a.m. Wednesday after results are certified, said Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Lauren Littlefield.
Each caucus host has been trained to oversee the vote-counting process, Littlefield said. Paper ballots will be counted three times before the results are accepted.
Results from the Republican caucus will be available at utah.gop sometime after online voting closes at 11 p.m.
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