What even is a "caucus," anyway?!
It's the question facing Kentucky Republicans this Saturday, as the state's GOP hosts its first presidential caucus since, well... ever.
So what does the change mean for voters?
For Democrats, it means nothing. The Democratic primary in Kentucky will take place as it always has. Same goes for non-presidential Republican races. This year, those elections are scheduled for May 17. The registration deadline for the primaries in Kentucky is April 18.
But for Republicans, the chance to throw your support behind a presidential candidate will come much earlier, on Saturday, March 5.
So, What Will the Caucus Look Like?
According to the Republican Party of Kentucky, inside each caucus location — 111 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have chosen to host a caucus location — voters will find tables for each of the candidates who chose to participate in Kentucky’s caucus, where campaign representatives and other party leaders will meet and speak with voters.
After visiting candidates’ tables, voters will move into the balloting area, where the voting experience will feel more familiar, involving showing identification and casting a secret ballot into a ballot box.
Each registered Republican in the state has been assigned a caucus location, which can be retrieved here.
Who Can Participate?
Only voters registered as a Republican as of Dec. 31, 2015 are eligible to vote in the presidential caucus.
The March 5 caucus is for the presidential election only.
Was This Really Just to Benefit Rand Paul?
It is true that the catalyst for the RPK's decision to host a caucus stemmed from Sen. Rand Paul's now fizzled presidential aspirations. In order to run for both president and re-election as Kentucky’s junior senator, Paul convinced the state’s top GOPers to hold a presidential caucus in 2016, instead of a primary election.
Party leaders approved the proposal in August, six months before Paul decided to suspend his presidential campaign.
But, when proposing the caucus, Paul shirked how it would benefit his political ambitions and said it would make Kentucky more relevant in presidential politics.
Is This a Permanent Change?
Fellow Kentucky senator and majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he would only support the proposal if Paul agreed to pay for the caucus from his Senate campaign account, a condition to which Paul agreed.
McConnell also stipulated his support would be contingent on the caucus being a one-time event.