It's a year that is a multiple of 4 once again, and as we all know, that means it's election time! Some have expressed confusion over the exact structure of the Republican Primaries that are all over the news this time of year, so I'll do my best to break it down in simple terms to make the structure understandable! As I'm sure we all saw with SOPA/PIPA (There are several other bills on the table now that are much more dangerous, or bills in recent history with worse possible outcomes, but that's another story all together), politics can affect people, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. We have this great system that is called a republic that only works if the population expresses its opinion. Do your part to make the system work as it should by understanding the election process and casting your vote for your favorite candidate!
Presidential primaries were started in the early 20th century in hopes of giving citizens a bit more control over the presidential election. Each state has a specific number of delegates to send to the party's National Convention after the primary elections are finished. In these primary elections, there are three typical structures. The first, the Open Primary, allows any person in the state who can legally vote to vote for who they want to see as the candidate for a specific party. The Closed Primary allows only those who register with the party to vote (You must register as a Republican to vote in the Republican candidate in a closed state, for example). In the Semi-Open Primary, one does not need to be registered with a party to vote in the primary, but must write in and state which of the party primaries (s)he will vote in, and (s)he may vote in that, and only that, primary.
A few states hold caucuses rather than primaries to determine who takes their delegates. These differ in structure in several ways from primaries. For a caucus, there are numerous sites throughout the state (Iowa has 1,774 for example) where people converge for the caucus. Unlike primaries, each candidate has a representative at each site to give a speech in hopes of swaying undecided voters. After the speeches, the people who show up for the caucus write down their choice on piece of paper, and these are counted. These counts choose the county delegates, who then go on to select the state delegates to send to the National Convention.
In most states, the candidates take a certain number of delegates based on the votes cast in their favor (meaning several candidates receive delegates). In a winner takes all state, however, the person with the highest number of votes takes all the delegates for the state. Later on, at the party's National Convention, these delegates vote (based on the number of delegates taken in each state by each candidate) to officially choose the candidate for the party. This candidate then goes on to face the candidate of the other major party to take the Presidential position. Numerous other parties also choose representatives, but in recent history, the only presidents have been those endorsed by the Republican or Democrat parties.
Obviously, Barack Obama, the incumbent for the Presidency, will be the Democrat candidate, so no Democratic Primaries will be held this year. The final Republican primary will take place on June 26th in Utah. The most important day, “Super Tuesday”, will take place on March 6th. On Super Tuesday, ten different states hold their primaries on the same day, making this date one of the most important in the whole primary race. For us as Illinois residents, the primary will be held on March 20th. The Illinois Republican Primaries are a Semi-Open Primary, meaning that you do not need to register with a political party to vote in them, but may only vote in one party's primary. To be eligible, you must be 18 by the date of the final presidential election in November. I urge everybody to research the positions of the candidates and go out and vote on March 6th. Be sure you are a registered voter! I myself will be out on March 6th, rain, snow, sunshine or darkness, rocking the vote for Ron Paul. Our system doesn't work unless people get out and vote, so be sure to do your part to choose what candidate you believe will be best for the Republican party!