Alaska Democrats hold caucus Saturday

Members of the Alaska Democratic Party get their chance to vote for their party’s presidential candidate when the party holds meetings statewide on Saturday morning. Unlike the Republican Party’s presidential preference poll, held on March 1 in which party members voted on a ballot, Democrats select their candidate through a caucus.

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at locations in Homer and Kenai, District 31, and Seldovia, District 32. The Homer caucus is at the Homer High School Commons. Since District 31 also includes Kasilof and Funny River on the central peninsula, party members can caucus at the Kenai Challenger Center. Lower peninsula party members visiting Kenai also can caucus there. The caucus begins at 10 a.m. Voters do not caucus at voting precincts.

To caucus, people must be registered to vote, but voters can register as Democrats at the door. 

Alaskans who turn 18 by June 24 can caucus because they are allowed to register to vote 90 days before their birthday. There is no absentee or proxy voting. Voters must be present to participate.

Three candidates are listed on the ballot: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, San Diego businessman Roque “Rocky” De Le Fuente and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

With the excitement generated by the competition between Clinton and Sanders, District 31 party chair Liz Diament said the Democratic Party is preparing for 125 percent of the turn-out in the 2008 caucus. In that caucus between Clinton and President Barack Obama, nearly 400 showed up in Homer alone, with 8,000 statewide. Obama won in Homer with 73 percent to Clinton’s 23 percent.

The caucus begins with an explanation of the procedure. Each party member gets a card showing eligibility to caucus. Representatives of each candidate get a chance to speak on why voters should back their candidate. Voters then fan out to a side of the room. A head count will be done, and if a candidate gets less than 15 percent of the total voters present, those people will have to select another candidate. People also can caucus for uncommitted. Diament said the caucus probably will take about 45 minutes to an hour.

After the fan out and people have sorted into groups, delegates are apportioned, with each candidate getting delegates based on the percentage of the vote received.

Homer will send 16 delegates to the state convention, Diament said. Thus, if the caucus is split between Sanders and Clinton, each would get 8 delegates. 

At the state convention held May 13-15 in Anchorage, Democratic Party members elect 10 district delegates. There also are two pledged party leaders and elected official delegates and four at-large delegates, the so-called “super delegates.” Unpledged delegates aren’t bound to any particular candidate and can shift their support.

Alaska Democratic Party 

Presidential Candidate Caucuses

District 31 and 32

What: Alaska Democratic Party members choose delegates to represent candidates at the state party convention

When: 10 a.m. Saturday. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.

• Where: District 31: Homer High School Commons or Kenai Challenger Center. 

District 32: City Building, Multipurpose Room, 260 Seldovia Street, Seldovia

Who: Party members can caucus for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, San Diego businessman Roque “Rocky” De Le Fuente and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

How: Members “fan out” to support their candidate. They also can caucus to be uncommitted. Members of groups receiving less than 15 percent have to choose another group. Delegates are awarded based on the percentage of votes. After the fan out, party members then choose delegates from each group to go to the state convention May 13-15 in Anchorage. District 31 sends 16 delegates to the state convention.