Kentucky to hold first caucus for Republican presidential nominee

If you’re among the more than 1.2 million Republicans in Kentucky, you will cast your votes a little differently next year. Instead of voting for a presidential nominee in May, Republicans will caucus in March.

The Republican National Committee made the change to allow Sen. Rand Paul to keep his seat while he runs for president. The presidential nominee visited Fulton, Kentucky, Tuesday afternoon, hosting a town hall meeting. Following the meeting, we asked him about the change from primary to caucus. Paul says people will be energized as part of the selection process.

"Because our primary has been so late in the past, a lot of times the decision over who the nominees are is already done by the time it gets to Kentucky," Paul says.

The Republican caucus will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, but it’s only for the Republican presidential nominee. If you’re a Democrat or Independent and want to vote for a Republican presidential nominee, you have to change your party affiliation by Dec. 31.

The caucus will be by secret ballot and will act just like a primary, except you will only vote for one of these candidates on a paper ballot: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Mark Rubio, and Ted Cruz have all registered in the Kentucky Caucus. Paul said he would formally file for the caucus Monday. The caucus is not winner takes all, so every vote cast counts for the candidate on the national level.

As for where, you most likely won’t be voting at your regular precinct. Here are the voting locations for area counties:

  • Ballard and Carlisle counties are considering a joint caucus in Ballard County.
  • Fulton: Offering the caucus
  • Marshall: Central Elementary School
  • Hickman: Courthouse
  • Graves: GOP HQ
  • Calloway George Weaks Community Center
  • Livingston: TBD
  • Lyon: Lee S Jones Community Building
  • Trigg: Trigg County Middle School

The Republican National Committee is covering the total cost of the caucus. Kentucky’s Republican Party Chairman for our area, Rick Grana, said the caucus will give Kentucky voters a greater say in the presidential election.

"What it’s doing is moving us forward from May to March, and we’ll be in some of the early primaries that are being held," Grana says.

To vote in the caucus, you do have to vote in your registered county. So, if you know you will be out of town on March 5, you can apply for absentee voting through your county Republican party Jan. 7. Republicans will still vote in a May primary for local and county leaders, but they will not have the option to vote for a Republican presidential nominee.

Kentucky Democrats will not vote in the March caucus. Matt Schultz is on the McCracken Democratic Board of Elections. Schultz says there are more people switching from democrat to republican everyday, but Schultz fears the caucus will also mean low voter turnout in May.

"We’re basically going to have a caucus that results in nothing other than embarrassing ourselves, and lowering voter turnout, and disparaging our own constitution." Schultz says.

Democrats will vote for their presidential nominee in the May primary.

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