Two methods used nationwide to nominate a candidate for president or candidates for local offices are the caucus or the primary. Unlike a primary, where residents cast their ballots, a caucus is a local gathering where voters openly decide which candidate to support.
States choose whether they want to hold primaries or caucuses. Colorado adopted the caucus system in 1910, switched to primaries in 1992, and then went back to caucuses in 2004—primarily due to the high cost of primaries.
Precincts. Precincts are the smallest political subdivision in Colorado. Pueblo County has 128 precincts, and each precinct elects up to two precinct chairs (PCs). PCs are elected at caucuses in even years and serve a two-year term; they lead their caucus whenever it convenes.
Purpose and Process. The purpose of precinct caucuses is to elect delegates for each candidate to our county convention, as well as PCs. From the county convention, Democrats are selected to be delegates to the state convention. The number of delegates to the county convention is proportional to the number of votes for each candidate at the caucuses.
Caucuses are held on the first Tuesday in March of the election year, but may be held earlier in years with a presidential election.
During caucus years, we conduct a caucus in every precinct in the county, typically in public schools, and they are open to the public. We always hold caucuses during presidential election years, and conduct them as well in off-year elections when there are multiple candidates for a single office.
At a caucus, members discuss the candidates and debate their merits. The PC runs the caucus, after receiving training from the party. The voting for candidates happens either by raising hands or by separating into groups, with the votes being counted manually by counting the number of supporters of each candidate.