WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, releases, “The Caucuses and the Right to Vote” – a brief and interactive multimedia map describing the caucus voter’s experience in 2016 and calling for more research into the caucus system’s interaction with our democracy. The brief and map come on the heels of presidential nomination contests across the United States during which hundreds of voters reached out to Election Protection’s 866-OUR-VOTE voter hotline, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), seeking help with voting in the caucuses.
“Around the country, voters are participating in the presidential election cycle through a dynamic system comprised of primaries in some states and caucuses in others,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “We seek to raise the level of awareness about the role of the caucus system in our democracy to help ensure that all voters have the information necessary to meaningfully participate in our political process.”
The brief examines turnout, representation, and accessibility in relation to the caucuses and finds that, in general, caucuses produce low turnout, attract a less representative portion of the population, and create barriers for various groups of voters, including military personnel and the disabled. The brief includes striking data. For example: so far in 2016, the average voter turnout for states with primaries is 32.4 percent, while the average turnout for caucuses is 9.9 percent. The brief strongly encourages more research into the caucuses in order to fairly access their worth in our democracy.
With the interactive map, readers can journey through the U.S. to take a closer look at the voter experience and caucus systems in Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky, and other states. The map includes real voter stories, as well as social media posts and videos, which further illustrate the experiences of voters in some of the caucus states.
“We encourage the public to consider the interplay between the caucus system of voting and the voter experience,” said Jennifer L. Patin, writer and editor for the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee and author of the brief.
The brief and map are part of an ongoing series of publications and interactive tools about Election 2016 released by Election Protection. This is the second brief in the series.
About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Action Network, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.