Minnesotans this year will vote for their choice on a variety of key federal and state offices, including both U.S. Senate seats, a U.S. House of Representative, governor, lieutenant governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Attorney General, and 134 State Representatives.

This will mark the first election in Minnesota since 1978 that both U.S. Senate seats and the governorship are up for election in the same year.

Minnesota’s political kickoff is Feb. 6 when the major parties convene precinct caucuses.  This is the start of the process for Party political organizing, Party platform building, and endorsing of candidates for the next general election.

“It is the truest sense of grassroots political activity in Minnesota,” MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan said. “If a person wants to have a voice in who represents them in government, the precinct caucus is the best place to start.”

The Process at a Glance

  1. Local Community, Neighborhood Level
    Individuals start out in their local community and meet neighbors, often with similar views.
  2. County/Senate District Levels
    A person becomes one of the actual votes to endorse candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate.
  3. Congressional and State Levels
    Individuals cast votes for who runs for Congress and the major statewide offices – Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor.

What to Expect

WHERE? Precinct caucuses are usually held at a school or town hall depending on the population of the community.

WHEN? Caucuses usually start with registration at 6:30 pm; a call to order at 7:00 pm. Depending on the business at hand they will usually go until 8:30 pm.

WHAT? There are four major things that occur at both DFL and Republican Caucuses:

  1. Election of party leadership at the local level
  2. A preferential poll for Federal Candidates and/or Statewide Candidates
  3. Election of delegates
  4. Offering resolutions to the respective Party’s platform

Learn more about each step below.

Inside the Process

  1. Election of party leadership at the local level
    A Precinct Chair and Associate Chair are the usual elected positions.  These people will become the key contact person at the precinct level within their respective Parties.
  2. A preferential poll for Federal Candidates and/or Statewide Candidates
    Depending on the year and what offices are on the ballot in the upcoming election, this can greatly increase participation. In 2008 and 2016, Minnesota had huge turnout for the presidential straw poll. Other years can also increase the amount of people that show up if a heated statewide office, like Governor or U.S. Senate, will be on the ballot in November.The straw poll usually runs from 7:15 pm until 8 pm.
  3. Election of delegates
    Delegates serves the county convention or the Senate District convention. MREA encourages members attending precinct caucuses to become a delegate to the next level to raise the voice of rural public education.The number of delegates that are elected is based on previous participation at the precinct caucus. Most years there are more delegate spots than there are people interested in becoming a delegate but, again, that depends on the atmosphere of the upcoming November election.If there are more delegate slots than attendees, anyone can become a delegate automatically.  If there are more attendees than delegate slots an election of delegates takes place. People will give brief speeches and then they will hold an election.
  4. Offering resolutions to the respective Party’s platform
    Anyone is allowed to offer any resolution.  The resolution is then discussed and voted on.  Any resolution that gets a majority vote moves on to the next level of the process. MREA will share model resolutions in the Feb. 5 update.

Get Involved

Find your precinct and learn what to expect (from Secretary of State website)

Learn more about each of the major political parties and get involved by visiting their websites:

DFL Party

Republican Party