Check out page 16 in today's Alive for our "Primary Primer," everything you need to register and vote in the nominating election on March 4.
When putting together our first Vote Yourself '08 column, a series to make the electoral process simple and relevant to young voters, I was amazed at home complicated the voting process is. It really is, as managing editor Brian Lindamood commented the other day, a not-so-subtle way of disenfranchising voters.
We have an indirect electoral process, and it's not perfect. The primary process, though, is wholly ridiculous in its complexity and indirectness. Ohio has a primary, the more modern and popular form of nominating elections, but ours is still complex. Here are some sites, concepts and terms to remember from civics class: *Pledged delegate: These are the delegates awarded to each candidate based on the proportion of the popular vote won in a primary or caucus. For example, if a candidate wins 90 percent of the primary vote in a state with 20 pledged delegates, he gets 18 of them.
*Superdelegates: Many delegates in each primary race are unpledged delegates (Republican version) or superdelegates (Democratic version). These people are usually upper-level party people in each state, and they are not required to support the candidate supported by the people in their state. (Weird, I know.) They can be wooed by various candidates in various ways.
* If you're following the primary race, you'll often see a candidate doing well in primaries, but lagging behind an opponent. For example, earlier today, Hillary Clinton has 48 pledged delegates and 182 superdelegates. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has won 68 delegates, but has the support of only 82 superdelegates.
Primary: This is familiar to voters in Ohio and is similar to the general election, in which people cast ballots for a candidate. In an open primary, voters can vote in either party primary, regardless of which party they're registered with. In a closed primary, voters can vote only in the primary of the party they're registered with.
Ohio has a modified closed primary. Voters, regardless of how they voted in the past, can choose a Republican or Democratic ballot and pick candidates from it. However, your choice of ballot effectively registers you with that party. Voters can opt for an "issues only" ballot to remain unaffiliated.
Caucus: Basically, this is an electoral system based on the town meeting. In states like Iowa, people in different Congressional districts meet and openly discuss various candidates. They then align themselves together and pick delegates to represent them. It's old-fashioned, and more states are moving away from this nominating process.
Here are some good sites that help me keep track of what's going on:
For local angles on national issues and candidates For a look at primary results nationwide For voting info and mail-in registration forms