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Tribune Editorial - Don't forget the caucuses on 'Super Tuesday'

DETROIT LAKES - Want a say in picking the next U.S. president?

Then get out there and caucus on Tuesday.

It's an exciting year for politics in Minnesota. Not just because there is no clear front runner for the Democrats or Republicans, but because Minnesota Republicans and Democrats moved their caucuses up to Tuesday this year, hoping to have more of a say in who wins the nomination. Minnesota used to hold its caucuses on March 4 .

This year, Minnesota is one of 22 states that will hold primaries and caucuses on Tuesday, called Super Tuesday because it can have a major impact on Republican and Democratic presidential races.

Never caucused before? It's actually kind of fun. You get together with other Republicans, Democrats or Independents, talk up the benefits of your candidate, listen to others argue their case, and cast a ballot.

Caucuses for the major parties begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday and people do not have to stay for other caucus functions after they vote, though that's kind of fun, too.

Among Tuesday's Democratic contests, Minnesota is tied for seventh in the number of delegates, with 88. The big states are California (441), New York (280), Illinois (185), New Jersey (127) and Massachusetts (121).

Some Minnesota delegates will not be committed to any candidate, but all delegates who support a candidate will be decided based on the caucus vote, according to reporter Scott Wente in our St. Paul Bureau.

On the Republican side, Minnesota caucus-goers can vote their preferences among presidential candidates, but those votes have no direct affect on the selection of national convention delegates. As state party Chairman Ron Carey told Wente, the poll "is a beauty contest."

The GOP will pick all of its national delegates and presidential preferences during conventions later in the year. But the caucuses are important for picking the delegates who will vote at those conventions

Those attending caucuses for all three major parties will do more than cast a ballot. They will debate issues they would like to see adopted in state and national platforms later in the year, and also elect some party leaders.

For years, journalists and politicians have been beating the drum for the caucuses as a vital part of the political process, and the best chance to have a real say in who the final candidates are for president.

And for years, interest in the caucuses, and attendance, has languished.

It's encouraging to see the excitement that the event is generating this year, especially among young people.

After all, the more people that get involved early in the political process, the more likely it is that the final candidates will reflect the views of most voters.

Take time to caucus on Tuesday.