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Missouri will hold caucuses in March instead of presidential primary

Although Missouri legislators cancelled the state’s presidential primary, voters will have an opportunity to participate in caucuses in March, Springfield television station KY3 reported.

In a cost-saving move, lawmakers last year canceled the state’s presidential primary as part of a broader elections bill backed by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft that also imposed photo identification requirements for voting. Although leaders of the state Republican and Democratic parties both testified in favor of reinstating a presidential primary, lawmakers this year failed to pass legislation doing so.

Instead of voting in a Tuesday primary at traditional polling places, people wanting to participate in the caucuses will need to attend a Saturday meeting of local Republicans. Polling places usually are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election days, with a period of absentee voting leading up to then. However, participants in the GOP county caucuses must attend a 10 a.m. meeting and be prepared to stay for a while.

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“The timetable makes it harder,” said Missouri Republican Party Chairman Nick Myers, who had urged lawmakers to reinstate a primary. “Let’s say you’re a nurse, a first responder, you’re on shift that day, you cannot get off at 10 a.m. to go to your local caucus, then you’re not going to be able to participate.”

The Missouri Democratic Party plans to run its own presidential primary using mail-in voting and a March 23 in-person election. The vast majority of states use primary elections to allocate party delegates to presidential candidates. Iowa, which traditionally is one of the first states to pick presidential candidates, is perhaps the most prominent to use a caucus system.

While some states shift away from presidential primaries, Kansas is moving toward them. A state law enacted this year sets a March 19 election for presidential primaries. In 2020, the state left it to political parties to decide what to do. Democrats funded and ran their own primary by mail ballot, while Republican leaders committed to supporting Donald Trump, then the president, without a vote or any caucuses.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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