AUGUSTA, Maine — Republicans and Democrats across Maine will gather Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to participate in the presidential nominating caucus. Here are some details about what to expect and why it matters.
What: The Maine Republican Party will host 22 presidential caucuses across Maine on Saturday, March 5. Attendees will vote by paper ballot. Though all of the caucuses will be held between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., specific voting times vary by site.
Where and when: Find the time and location of your caucus by visiting www.mainegop.com/caucus/.
Who: You need to be a registered Republican to participate in a Republican caucus, and you must present a valid ID. If you are unenrolled in a political party, you can register as a Republican on the day of the caucus. If you are a Democrat or Green Independent, the deadline to enroll as a Republican and participate in Saturday’s caucus has passed.
How: Presentation of a valid ID will result in the issuance of a “Participation Card,” which can be redeemed for a ballot. The secret ballot will list a series of names, including several Republican candidates who have dropped out of the race. Each caucus location will have a three-hour window for casting caucus ballots, during which many locations will host a number of speeches. Attendance for the speeches is not required; caucus goers can cast their ballots and leave if they so choose.
Delegates: Ballots will be taken to Republican Caucus Headquarters, which will be at the Ramada Inn on Pleasant Street in Lewiston. If any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the caucus votes, all of Maine’s 23 delegates to the Republican National Convention will be awarded to that candidate. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, each candidate who receives more than 10 percent of the vote will be awarded delegates proportionally.
Why does it matter? Donald Trump is the clear front-runner nationally, but there are frantic efforts within the party establishment to deflect his trajectory. If another candidate such as Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio wins Maine or comes close to Trump, it could be one indicator that the dynamic in the Republican primary race is beginning to change. However, Maine’s small role in national elections won’t be a decider.
The results: The Maine Republican Party will announce the caucus results Saturday evening in Lewiston. All results will be announced at once. Bangor Daily News will have live updates and results at www.bangordailynews.com/story/live-maine-democrats-republicans-vote-in-presidential-caucuses/.
What: The Maine Democratic Party will host more than 500 municipal caucuses on Sunday, March 6, to allocate delegates to the state convention on May 6 and 7 in Portland. All of the caucuses have to be held between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where and when: Find the time and location of your caucus by entering your address at www.mainedems.org/page/find-your-caucus.
Who: You need to be a registered Democrat to participate in a Democratic caucus. If you are not enrolled in a political party, you can register on site at any of the caucus locations. If you are a Republican or Green Independent, the deadline for you to enroll as a Democrat and participate in Sunday’s caucus has passed. No identification is needed to participate in the Democratic caucuses.
How: Each caucus will include the election of caucus chairman and reading of the caucus rules. In some locations there will be a program of speakers, such as local lawmakers and candidates. Representatives for the presidential candidates also may make remarks. At some point, attendees will gather in groups according to their preference — including a group for undecideds. The groups will be counted, and each municipality’s chairman will announce how the delegates will be split and reported to Maine Democratic Party Headquarters in Augusta.
Delegates? The number of delegates available from each municipality is available at www.mainedems.org/2016delegatecounts. If you want to be your municipality’s delegate to the state convention, you can campaign for that post at your local caucus. Maine’s 25 delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be divided with 10 delegates going to the 1st Congressional District winner; seven to the 2nd Congressional District winner and eight for the statewide winner. Maine also has five superdelegates. Three have endorsed Hillary Clinton, one is for Bernie Sanders, and the fifth, Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett, is uncommitted.
Why does it matter? Though Clinton is running away with the nomination nationally, Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has been strong in the Northeast. On a national scale, Maine’s results don’t mean much, especially on the Democratic side, with most of the the momentum flowing Clinton’s way. Sanders needs every delegate and state win he can get, and Maine offers a chance for him to gain a little momentum before the Michigan primary on Tuesday, a must-win for Sanders.
The results: The Democrats plan to release their results to the media and on the party’s website beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday.