Moving away from traditional caucus, Johnson County Democrats will participate in ranked-choice presidential primary this year

The Kansas Democratic Party will hold a party-run, ranked-choice primary instead of the usual caucus this year.

Democrats in Iowa may be reeling in the wake of the party’s inability to report results from Monday’s caucuses. But here in Kansas, the caucus system won’t be able to cause similar headaches this year.

The Kansas Democratic Party will use a primary process instead of the usual caucus for Democratic presidential nominating in 2020.

Instead of meeting at a location in one’s senate district with approximately 3,500 other people, as had been the process in the past, Democrats will use mail-in ballots and in-person voting to run a ranked-choice primary.

All registered Democrats will receive a mail-in ballot at the end of March to choose their top five candidates. Voters have the option to mail their completed ballots back to the Kansas Democratic Party as soon as the next day, or to vote in-person on May 2 at a location within their district, Johnson County Democrats Chair Nancy Leiker said. In-person voting locations will be announced at a later date.

Though the process will be much different than the kind of in-person caucus used in Iowa, the way the delegates are assigned will still follow the caucus parameters used in the past.

A voter’s first-choice will be given special significance, and candidates with at least 15% of the first-choice votes will receive a delegate, according to the KDP website. Candidates who did not reach 15% of the first-choice votes will be eliminated. If a voter’s number one candidate does not meet the 15% threshold required to move forward, then her second choice will be counted. The votes will be counted until each remaining candidate has at least 15% of the vote.

In addition, Senate District Conventions will be held on May 9 for delegate selection, a week after in-person voting occurs. Kansas will have 47 delegates to send to the party convention. Those delegates “will be assigned to candidates based on the percentage that each candidate received in the final round of the total tally,” according to the KDP website. Leiker said the delegates who go to the Democratic convention must pay their own way there, and it costs about $3,000 per person. Additional information about the Kansas Delegate Selection plan can be found here.

Leiker said that any person who wishes to participate in the party-run, ranked-choice primary should register as a Democrat by Feb. 29 to receive a mail-in ballot. Below is a list of important dates to keep in mind if you wish to participate in the primary, as outlined by the KDP:

  • Feb. 29: Last day to register as a Democrat to receive mail-in ballot.
  • March 9: Registered Democrats receive mail explaining how to vote by advanced ballot or in-person, along with location details for in-person voting
  • March 30: Registered Kansas Democrats start to receive mail-in ballots
  • April 17: Last day to request mail-in ballot
  • April 24: Day the postmark must read for completed, returned mail-in ballots
  • May 2: In-person voting in each Senate district