Welcome to the first in a series of South Florida Media Network explainer videos, short pieces designed to help you understand important issues in the news.
This piece describes the complex way that Americans in different political parties choose their nominees for president. There are two main varieties: primaries and caucuses. Though the former is far more common, caucuses get a lot of airtime in part because Iowa, which has one, has gone first in the process since the 1970s. A software malfunction and other issues earlier this month, however, has put that status in jeopardy.
Florida, like most states, has a primary. A primary is what most people think of when they visualize an election: people go to a polling place — or mail in an absentee ballot — to vote in secret and go home. In caucuses, voters meet publicly and choose their preferred candidate with a show of hands or by breaking out into different groups in the room.
In addition, Florida has what is considered a “closed” primary. That means only members of a particular party may participate in its election, and independents are unable to vote. However, registered voters may change their party affiliation until Feb. 18. The Florida primary will be held on March 17.
Stay tuned for more election videos.