Edmonson Voice Staff
If you're like most Edmonson County residents, you have several questions regarding the 2016 Kentucky Republican Presidential Caucus. What is it? How does it work? Why are we having one?
According to some experts, there are several advantages to a caucus over a regular primary, specifically regarding a Presidential nominee.
What is it?
The 2016 KY Republican Presidential Caucus for Edmonson County will be a local meeting where registered republicans (registered on or before December 31, 2015) in the county will gather at the Community Center in Brownsville, Saturday, March 5th, any time between 10am-4pm to vote for their preferred republican Presidential candidate.
"First of all, the main fundamental difference between a a caucus and a primary, is that a caucus is planned and funded by a party and a primary is funded by state and local government," said Professor Scott Lasley, WKU Political Science Instructor and Chairman of the Warren County Republican Party.
No taxpayer dollars are used to fund the Kentucky Caucus. According to KYCaucus.com, Sen. Rand Paul has paid $250K of the estimated $400-500K cost to hold the Caucus, and has pledged an additional $200K. Additionally, each of the 11 candidates who filed to participate in the caucus had to pay $15K each (for a total of $165K from candidates alone).
All eleven candidates will appear on the ballot, however, a list of candidates that have dropped out by the caucus date will be provided to voters.
Edmonson County Clerk Kevin Alexander said his office has received multiple calls from confused voters. "Our office isn't handling this like we do our regular primary and general elections," he said. "It's being handled by the state republican party which is represented by Edmonson County Republican Chairman Bob Kleier."
Rep. Kleier said that much of it will work just like a primary election that everyone knows. Voters will still receive a paper ballot with the candidates listed and they'll be able to vote their choice, just like a primary. "One difference is, there won't be any computers," said Kleier. "It's going to be somewhat old-fashioned. Later that afternoon, the votes will be counted and sent to Republican Headquarters in Frankfort. Everybody still gets a vote, it will just be at one location."
Why a caucus instead of a primary?
Senator Rand Paul initiated the Kentucky Caucus due to a state law that would prohibit him from appearing on the primary ballot as both a Presidential and U.S. Senate candidate at the same time. Although Paul is now out of the Presidential race, he wanted to see what kind of support he could gather, but still have the option of running for senate if his support ran out in the bigger race. Many Kentuckians have expressed that they feel as if Paul will serve Ky better as senator rather than President.
"Our caucus is strictly for the purpose of the Presidential nomination process," said Prof. Lasley. "It's also an effort to try to move Kentucky up in the process. With a May primary, we've been largely ignored on the republican race for a long time. In the past, the nominee had already been decided by then. If the process were moved up to March, the question becomes, can it also attract more interest and more candidates coming to the state?"
Presidential candidates usually spend more time in states with caucuses rather than primaries, and some feel that the same could be the case here. Kentucky's winner in the March caucus could have an effect nationally in this year's election, simply by grabbing more attention.
District 19 State Rep. Michael Meredith said he also felt like KY had more potential to influence the national race. "It does take more effort and a capital investment from the state part," he said. "But, we could be much more influential. Kentucky's results in March means much more than a primary winner in May."
How will it work in Edmonson County?
The biggest differences are
Registered county democrats will not vote in a caucus and will vote for a democratic Presidential candidate on the ballot in the May 17, 2016 primary.
There will still be a Republican primary in May
Although the republican primary ballot will only contain a U.S. Senate race, republicans will still vote on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
County Attorney J.B. Hines, who is a local caucus volunteer, has noted that all county republicans voting in the caucus must have acceptable methods of identification to vote which can include: (1) motor vehicle operator’s license; (2) Social Security card; (3) credit card; or (4) identification card with picture and signature.
If you have further questions, please visit the Republican Party of Kentucky's website at rpk.org/caucus.