Does my vote matter? The presidential election process explained

Leslie D. Rose

     In the world of politics, the first Tuesday in March is known as “Super Tuesday”. It’s the day thirteen states hold caucuses or primary elections for any presidential race, with results coming in around the same time, potentially shifting the state of the race. This year, Super Tuesday is on March 2 – just a few days before Louisiana’s March 5 Presidential Preference Primary Election, and a little more than a week after its early voting period.

     With ballots going off all over the country, where does your one vote fit into all of the madness, and what do you need to know before you hit the polls?

     According to the Ascension Parish Registrar of Voter’s office, the statewide primary is a closed-party election. This type of election is used to choose candidates who will run in the general election. In a closed primary, only voters registered for the party holding the election may vote. Registrar of Voters, Robert J. Poche has advised Ascension Parish voters that there are only two political parties involved – the Democratic and Republican parties, because they have 40,000 or more registered members.

     After the upset and lack thereof in the Iowa caucuses, voters may be thoroughly confused as to what the difference between the two primary sources of voting are.

     While both are ways of collecting party members' votes when choosing a presidential candidate, a caucus is a categorized by as a neighborhood event that requires several hours of active communal participation and debate. Caucuses usually takes place in the evening in a home or public space, depending on the size of the caucus location. A primary election is what most people traditionally think of when they imagine voting – people show up at a neighborhood polling place to vote for their candidate by ballot.

     Louisiana does not participate in presidential caucuses, but rather uses the primaries  to determine presidential preference. But then why is Iowa such a big deal and what affects does it have on how other states vote? While classified as a large event, the Iowa caucus only accounts for 1 percent of the total delegates that will be casting their votes at national conventions, and the entire primary election process will take several months to completely run its course. But Iowa’s caucus has been the first phase of the presidential race since 1972, and political analysts believe a lot can be determined from just this one state’s caucus results.

     Just after placing very low at the Iowa caucuses, each party lost candidate hopefuls – Martin O’Malley on the democratic side and Rand Paul on the republican side. Republican Rick Santorum followed Paul’s lead a few days later, and giving an endorsement to Marco Rubio. Also dropping on the Republican side are Rick Perry and Micke Huckabee. Shortly after the New Hampshire primaries, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and business woman Carly Fiorina also dropped.

     Analysts usually know who the party nominees will be by late spring, but they are not officially chosen until the national party convention in the summer. But there is so much more that happens before its just party versus party.

     Prior to a general election, there is a selection process to determine which candidate will appear on the ballot for a given political party in the nationwide general election. Political parties generally hold national conventions at which a group of delegates collectively decide upon which candidate they will run for the presidency. The process of choosing delegates to the national convention is undertaken at the state level – the caucuses and primary elections – meaning that there are significant differences from state to state and sometimes year to year.

     And that’s where your one votes makes all of the difference.

     According to Rock the Vote – a popular voting awareness campaign – while your voice may be small in a huge presidential election, there are many others who have the same opinions you do, and by not voting you are giving up on what you envision.