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Emmet County GOP shouts out to county Republicans

Caucus “might even be kind of fun,” county chair says

January 10, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

John Brickner says the caucus is not intimidating and "might even be kind of fun." Because we caucus only once every four years in Iowa, and because it's a more complicated process than a primary election, it's important for voters to know how to caucus.

Because of the large field of Republican candidates in 2016, the Emmet County Republican party has opened two locations for Emmet County. Voters in Estherville and Wallingford will go to Roosevelt School as usual. Voters in eastern Emmet County, including Armstrong and Ringsted, will go to North Union High School in Armstrong to caucus.

"We're expecting 50 to 100 percent more people this year, and there are so many candidates people like," Brickner said. With the large field, the party is expecting seven or eight people at each location to speak on behalf of candidates.

Here's how it works. Individuals who support a certain candidate gather and from them one person is chosen to give a speech up to three minutes long on why they support that candidate. "It's a tight time frame so we're keeping each speech to a strict three minutes," Brickner said.

Caucus-goers will then gather by precinct to discuss issues to go on the county's Republican Party platform. This is a list of statements of support for or opposition to issues from abortion to affordable healthcare, biofuels to tax reform to individual liberties to education. The platform is approved by a majority vote of those in attendance.

Also new this year there is double the capacity for delegates to the county convention March 1. "Up to 150 delegates can attend the convention this year. The county delegates approve the platform and send it on to the state convention.

What happens at the vote? Brickner has the "magic button" ready for the smart phone app to send all the numbers to Des Moines. They count each vote. If one person votes for one of the lower polling candidates, that one vote is sent; if a candidate draws no votes, their name is sent in with a zero. Any write-in candidates are also written in.

Brickner said Emmet County's influence in the state's electoral process will increase next time if more people show up in 2016. "The more people who vote in 2016, the more delegates we will get to the 2020 state convention," he said.

The Party is excited to reach out to younger voters. "We want to get the word out that if an Iowan is going to turn 18 on or before Nov. 8, 2016, they may caucus on Feb. 1. This would apply to most high school seniors as well as a number of juniors, and we hope to see them caucus for the first time this year. Starting to meet their civic responsibilities at an early age is a great pattern to start."

Brickner said Iowa's status as first in the nation is good for the state. "We set the pace for the rest of the primary and caucus season. Many candidates base decisions to stay in or drop out on their performance in Iowa. Polls are one thing, but people showing up and voting their conscience can change the course of the election."



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