Election 101: How an Iowa GOP caucus works

Confused about what the Iowa caucuses are, exactly? Here is a step-by-step explanation about what will happen in Iowa on the evening of Jan. 3 – the first presidential nominating contest of the 2012 season.

2. How the Republican caucuses work in Iowa

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hugs a supporter at a meet-and-greet in West Des Moines, Iowa on Friday.

Participants arrive at 7 p.m. central time at their designated sites. Only registered Iowa Republicans may take part. After the pledge of allegiance, a caucus chairman and secretary are elected to run the meeting and take notes. Representatives from each campaign are invited to speak. Then participants are handed slips of paper, where they write down their choice of candidate.

Votes are collected and counted in front of the caucus; representatives from each campaign are allowed to observe. The results are recorded on an official Iowa GOP form and announced to the caucus. A caucus reporter is chosen to report the results to the Iowa GOP. Participants then elect precinct committee representatives, delegates, alternates, and junior delegates to the county convention. They also discuss and submit platform resolutions for consideration at the county convention.

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