Confusion surrounds the caucus format in Sheridan County and, it seems, statewide. Voters from both parties watch the news and read results of voters in other states going to the polls to choose their primary presidential candidates. Wyoming voters wonder, When do they get a vote?
Unlike caucusing states like Iowa and New Hampshire, the Cowboy State doesn’t choose its presidential candidates at the county caucuses. In Wyoming, the Republican Party’s 29 delegates won’t be awarded until the Republican National Convention on July 18-21.
In Sheridan County, the Republican Party held a caucus Feb. 20. At that caucus, registered Republicans were able to choose precinct men and women to represent them at the county convention set for March 12. At the county convention, those delegates will nominate representatives to the state convention from amongst their group. That candidate will indicate which presidential candidate he or she plans to vote for at that time. But, that choice may not be the choice of other representatives from other counties.
The process is long and drawn out.
County caucuses on the Democratic Party’s side are different. Candidates are awarded delegates to the party’s state convention in proportion to the number of supporters they have. Delegates will be elected to attend the state convention and individuals can sign up to run as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention July 25-28.
The caucus process gives voters an opportunity to sit down and discuss the candidates seeking our country’s highest office. They can be involved; their voices can be heard. But, the process seems so confusing that only a small percentage of voters participate.
These caucuses, confusing and misinterpreted, fly low on the voter’s radar. It flies, too, in the face of Wyoming pragmatism. (Example: Try explaining the process to a neighbor or causal voter.) It is time that the presidential primary process in Wyoming becomes more representative and less confusing. It’s time to send voters to the polls.
The change would have to begin with the state’s Democratic and Republican party organizations, the bylaws of which govern how Wyoming delegates are selected along with state legislation and national party leadership.