BISMARCK — North Dakota voters will have a chance to reaffirm their support for President Donald Trump or pick his Democratic challenger on Tuesday, March 10, when the two major parties hold their presidential caucuses in the state.
There’s no intrigue on the Republican side, but former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders are in a tight race for the 1,991 delegates needed nationwide to secure the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
And that means the mere 14 Democratic delegates available in North Dakota matter more than usual on Tuesday, when the Peace Garden State joins five others in deciding who will gain their support.
As of Friday afternoon, Biden had 627 delegates and Sanders had 551, a separation of 76. This Tuesday, a total of 352 delegates are available in the six states of Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota.
North Dakota Democrats can cast their votes at any of 14 locations across the state. Republicans have eight voting locations in the state.
The Democratic primary is called a "firehouse" caucus because it is held in public places and run by the state party rather than the state government. In previous presidential election years, the party has opted for a more traditional caucus, in which voters may have been required to stick around for several rounds of voting to make sure their vote counted.
Changes to this year's format mean voters can cast a ballot and leave — much the same as they would in a state-run election.
Both parties have mail-in ballots this year, with the Democrats rolling out the option for the first time. More than 3,100 Democratic ballots had been requested by voters as of March, according to party spokesman Alex Rohr. The option to request Democratic mail-in ballots is no longer available, and those already requested must have been postmarked by March 5 to count.
Rohr said the adjustments are meant to make the voting process more inclusive and accessible to college students, Native Americans and people with irregular schedules.
Rohr said the engagement with the mail-in options is encouraging. In 2016, about 3,350 people voted in the party's caucus in which Bernie Sanders beat eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
How do I vote?
North Dakotans who wish to vote in the Democratic race on the day of the caucus will need to check in at a polling site and sign a "Pledge of Support" to the party. Presenting a formal identification card will not be required, Rohr said.
Democratic voters will have a choice between 12 candidates, though nearly all but Biden and Sanders have suspended their campaigns.
The outcome of the Republican primary is already decided, but state party chairman Rick Berg said Tuesday’s event will serve as an informal kickoff to Trump's reelection campaign.
"It'll be a fun opportunity for people who have been supporters of President Trump across the state," Berg said.
North Dakota’s 29 Republican delegates that will attend the Republican National Convention will be chosen at the state convention March 27-28 in Bismarck.
When and where do I vote?
Those voting in either party’s caucus can show up at any of the party’s voting sites.
All 14 locations for the Democratic-NPL Party's caucuses will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time, and Rohr said the party hopes to have 95% of the votes announced by 11 p.m.
The party has contracted with New York-based Global Election Services to provide traditional voting machines to count the paper ballots, Rohr said. The party will not be using any untested tools like the one that caused major technical issues in Iowa last month.
Republican caucus sites will be open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Central time. Berg said the party will count the ballots internally and he hopes to have them tallied by 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Here are the state’s Democratic caucus sites:
Fargo: Fargo-Moorhead AFL-CIO, 3002 1st Ave. N., Fargo
Grand Forks: IBEW, 1714 N Washington St.
Bismarck: AFL-CIO House of Labor, 1323 E Front Ave. # 1
Minot: IBEW, 125 35th Ave. NE
Williston: James Memorial Preservation, Classroom, 621 1st Ave. W.
Jamestown: Gladstone Hotel, Gladstone I Conference Room, 111 2nd St. NE
Devils Lake: Holiday Inn Express, 875 Hwy 2 East
Valley City: Straus Mall, Upper floor, 200 Central Ave. N.
Dickinson: Dickinson Elks Lodge, 501 Elks Drive
Belcourt: Sky Dancer Casino & Resort, Event Center, 3965 Sky Dancer Way NE
Fort Yates: Standing Rock High School, Gymnasium, 9189 ND-24
New Town: Northern Lights Center, 710 East Ave.
Wahpeton: Wahpeton Community Center, 304 5th St. S.
Fort Totten: Cankdeska Cikana Community College – Gymnasium, 214 1st Ave.
Here are the state’s Republican caucus sites:
Fargo: Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S.
Bismarck: Ramada Inn, 1400 E Interchange Ave.
Grand Forks: Ramada Inn, 1205 N 43rd St.
Minot: Grand Hotel, 1505 N. Broadway
Underwood: City Hall, 88 Lincoln Ave.
Devils Lake: City Plaza, 210 US-2
Valley City: District 24 GOP Headquarters, 341 North Central Ave.
Park River: Alexander House Restaurant, 903 Park St. W.
Dickinson: Blackridge Enterprises, 623 State Ave., Suite B