A Crash Course in Politics: The Democratic Primaries

Madeline Shrode, Writer

It is election year, and tension is ramping up as the primaries begin. The Alabama primaries will take place on March 3, 2020. 

This is the point where most Bob Jones students get lost: only 8.6% of polled students were confident in their knowledge of America’s admittedly complicated political system. Most everyone else knew very little about how politics work, and all their information came from snippets of news or conversations with their parents.

Thus far, the only primaries to have happened are the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. At the Iowa caucus, Buttigieg won the most delegates with 13, followed in descending order by Sanders with 12, Warren with 8, Biden with 6, and Klobuchar with one. In New Hampshire, Buttigieg and Sanders both earned 9 delegates and Klobuchar earned 6. Overall, the results are Buttigieg with 22 delegates, Sanders with 21, Warren with 8, Klobuchar with 7, and Biden with 6.

To state that information overload in simpler terms, it is easiest to start at explaining the system that made those numbers.

The United States has always used a primary system as a method of choosing candidates to represent a political party. The primaries are a state-wide vote for delegates. There is a set amount of delegates for each state, and the primaries decide how many of those delegates will vote for each candidate. A candidate is chosen to represent the entire party at the democratic convention: this is where the delegates vote based on the state’s interests.

The other confusing part of the primary system is that there are both primaries and caucuses, but those are much less complicated than they seem. They are just two different methods of voting. A caucus is an informal vote, whereas a primary is a secret ballot that is either open to all registered voters or only to those registered to the party that primary is for. Each state has a different primary system, but they all result in representative delegates at the Democratic convention.

Alabama uses an open primary followed by a runoff, which means that in Alabama there is no party registration, anyone can vote for any party. Someone can only vote for one candidate, though, and the only vote in the runoff for that particular party. If someone were to vote in the Democratic primary, they would not be able to vote in the Republican primary as well. The runoff is when the two highest voted candidates for a party are then put to a vote to decide the one candidate to receive delegates from Alabama for that party. If someone votes Democrat in the first vote, they can only vote in the Democratic runoff.

Seniors and some Juniors are going to be able to vote in this year’s election, so it is incredibly important that they, as the newest members of the American political system, are well informed. Look at the policies of all the candidates, and no matter the headaches they cause, watch the debates. Junior Maggie Brown puts it best: “It is incredibly important to be educated about politics, especially at this stage of our lives and at this pivotal time for democracy. We are about to inherit whatever mess the government will end up in after the 2020 election, and we should all be invested in a better future.”

Get educated and vote!