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If you go to your precinct caucus

Minnesota's political party precinct caucuses start at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, with registration likely open before that. To find out where your caucus will be held, go here. Caucuses for Republican, DFL, Green and Independence parties are listed.

Minnesota's political party precinct caucuses start at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, with registration likely open before that. To find out where your caucus will be held, go here . Caucuses for Republican, DFL, Green and Independence parties are listed.

Who can caucus?

Anyone who lives in Minnesota and will be at least 18 years old on Nov. 6 can officially participate, but younger people can come and be involved as well, although they can't vote for delegates or platform resolutions. People must have some sort of allegiance to the party and can't also caucus for another party.

What happens?

At your precinct caucus, in addition to casting straw poll ballots, you'll be able to propose and vote on resolutions to be included in your party's statewide platform -- stands on issues like voter identification, right to work and gay marriage that define the party's vision. Candidates or elected officials often tour different caucuses to meet with constituents, so they may stop by your neighborhood meeting. Each caucus will elect someone to run the show that night. You can also run to be a delegate to the state Senate district or county party convention, the first step in going to congressional district, statewide and national conventions. You may also be asked to sign up to be an election judge or perform other party functions. Some caucuses may have only a few people attend; others may be crowded. If you want to push a specific issue or candidate, it's best to bring friends who share your views.

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No excuses

If you give at least 10 days' notice, Minnesota law requires employers to give time off (without pay) for anyone attending a precinct caucus. State laws also prevent any local government or government agency from holding formal meetings that night, such as school boards and city councils.

Most stay home

Of the state's roughly 4 million eligible voters, fewer than 200,000 people, or about 5 percent, are expected to caucus this year. In 2008, a record 214,000 DFLers attended caucuses during a heated campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. That number is expected to drop considerably this year with no presidential race. Republicans drew about 62,000 to caucuses in 2008 and are expected to do about the same this year.

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