By Lauren Rust

On March 5, students have a chance to be part of Kansas history, by joining in the Kansas caucus events for the two major parties.

A caucus, as defined by the council of foreign relations, is a “party meeting by precinct, district, or county, where registered party members gather to discuss the candidates and to select delegates to the next round of party conventions.”

In Kansas, it takes the place of a primary election. It takes the place of casting paper or electronic ballots.

You “vote” by sitting in a chair, in your preferred candidate’s official section, when it is time to “vote.”

Heads are counted in each section by election officials.

Totals, from caucus events across Kansas, are reported to Topeka and totaled.

With both races being close, this caucus could go many ways for both Democrats and Republicans.

For the Republicans, there will be 11 names in the field, which can spread votes very thin for candidates.

On the Democrat side, however, there are only four names to consider, although Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders seem to be the top two.

The Republican caucus will take place at the Atrium hotel at 1400 North Lorraine St.

They will begin taking credentials and identification at 8:30 a.m., but the voting period will be from 10-2 p.m.

The Democratic caucus will take place at the 4-H Encampment Building at the fairgrounds.

The caucus registration will last from 1-3 p.m.

According to the Kansas Democratic Party website, you must be 18 by the day of the general election, which is Nov. 8. You must also be registered with the party that hosts the caucus.

For example, if someone is a registered Republican, they must vote only in the Republican caucus for Reno County. To participate in the caucus, you must register to vote by Feb. 4.

If you are not registered to vote with Reno County or have not established residency in the county, there still is a way to participate.

To do this, you should bring a form of identification and mention that you are not a voter for the county.

This will allow you to make a provisional vote that will be counted at the state level instead of the local level.

Gordon Roth, chairman of the Reno County Republican central committee, is running the Republican caucus for the second time this year.

“It’s different than going to the polling booth,” Roth said. “People can show signs, set up booths, etc.” Roth also said that there will be up to 1,500 people that vote March 5.

Roth also encourages young people, like the students at HCC, to come and see what is going on, even if they are not part of the party.

The 11 Republicans on the ballot for this caucus are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Donald J. Trump

The four Democrats on the ballot are former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rocky De La Fuente.

If you do not know who to vote for, or what party to register with, there are resources to go to for help in the process.

The first resource would be to find each candidate’s website and look at the issues that they support as well as those they do not.

To register in Reno County, go to the courthouse on West 1st Ave. and take a right through the doors around the tag department to the Reno County Clerk’s office.

If you are registering for the first time, bring a copy of your birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, as well as your driver’s license.

With the Kansas caucuses coming up, people have a chance to make a difference with their vote and exercise the rights we have as American citizens.

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