Caucus invites student votes

The Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns are wrapping up final rallies and events in Washington before the democratic caucus opens on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The caucus is the first step toward selecting a presidential nominee where Washington voters elect delegates to represent their precincts in the Legislative District caucuses April 12.

Eventually, these representatives will proceed to the Democratic National Convention in late July.

“It’s a great opportunity for family and neighbors to choose the next president of the United States,” said Washington Democrats representative Jamal Raad. “It’s not very often that you meet face to face with your neighbors and strategize how to make the world a better place.” Washington state has 101 delegates who will be allocated among democratic candidates as well as 17 superdelegates, one of whom is Gov. Jay Inslee.

The delegates will be assigned proportionally based on the caucus’s voting results. In other words, if a candidate receives 60 percent of the votes, he or she will receive 60 percent of the delegates.

“It will bring out folks who are feeling strongly, not just about the Democratic Party, but not letting certain Republican candidates get through,” said Ann Parks, Whitman County Democrats chair.

More than 65,000 Washington voters have pre-registered for the caucus and more than 35,000 have submitted surrogate affidavits in order to vote early, Raad said.

“There are a lot of younger folks interested in caucusing,” Raad said. “People ages 18 to 34 were over half of the folks who have pre-registered.”

Parks has noted a growth in college-age voters participating in caucuses within Whitman County due to two reasons: the ability to disseminate information via social media and the political-related activities hosted on the Washington State University campus. The Young Democrats of WSU have handed out voter forms to students and encouraged those who are interested to attend Saturday’s caucus.

“Regardless of your political identity, your voice matters,” said Taehlor Crim, president of the Young Democrats of WSU. “If there was a large turnout of younger voters, we could have a very strong voice.”

Everyone is welcome to attend and engage in discussions regarding democratic candidates. However, voting is only available to those who are registered to vote, consider themselves to be a democrat, and will be 18 or older as of the presidential election Nov. 8, 2016.

Caucuses for Whitman County precincts will convene at Pullman High School, Jefferson Elementary School, Pioneer Center, Bishop Place Senior Living and Washington State University in the Todd Hall atrium.

As of yesterday, Clinton has 1,223 pledged delegates and 467 superdelegates, according to The Associated Press. Sanders has 920 pledged delegates and 26 superdelegates. A candidate needs 2,383 for the presidential nomination.

To learn more about the Washington Democratic caucus process, caucus locations, or how to pre-register, visit