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Bonneville Co. GOP Preps For March Caucus

In just a few weeks, Idaho Republicans will get their turn to select a GOP presidential candidate. But big changes mean an entirely new process for voters and more relevance than ever.

The countdown is on. Just 24 days until Idaho gets a say between Romney and Santorum, Gingrich and Paul.

“Well, we’ve been planning and organizing and preparing for the last two months,” said Don Schanz, chairman of the Bonneville County GOP.

That preparation is for the Gem State GOP’s first ever presidential caucus on Super Tuesday, rather than the traditional May primary. It may look different, but there are still 32 delegates at stake.

“That will be extremely important,” said Schanz.”It could be a huge prize for any of these candidates.”

Each county will hold a caucus and they may differ slightly from one another.

In Bonneville County, “they’ll be given a token, the token will be dropped in bucket and the bucket counted and each candidate will receive a number of votes according to tokens in the bucket,” said Schanz.

The candidate with the least votes, or less than 15 percent, will lose their bucket and be out.

Rounds will continue until one bucket gets more than 50 percent of the vote. If no one gets more than half, candidates will split that county’s share of delegates.

Of 8,000 registered Republicans in Bonneville County, Schanz expects 2,000 to participate in the two or three hour process.

They must “be a registered voter,” said Schanz. “And the second thing, is to make a party declaration as well.”

Only registered Republicans can participate in the caucus.

On the flip side, anyone can go to the Idaho Democratic caucuses in April. With President Barack Obama running for re-election, this year’s event isn’t so much about that vote.

“It’s also a great opportunity for our participants to nominate and be elected as state delegates, attend the state convention and have a voice and a say in crafting our state party platform,” said Shelley Landry, executive director for the state Democratic party.

Landry said Idaho Democrats have been caucusing since the 80s, and it’s always a party.

“Its fun, exciting,” she said. “There’s a lot of back and forth.”

The Idaho GOP will caucus on Super Tuesday, which is March 6. Time and location depend on what county voters live in.

Bonneville County’s caucus will be at the Civic Auditorium in Idaho Falls. Registration will start at 4 p.m. and the caucus will begin at 7 p.m.

Idaho’s Democratic party will hold its caucuses statewide on April 14 at 10 a.m. Locations also vary by county.

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