BPOU stands for Basic Political Operating Unit. What that really means though, is that a BPOU is the lowest level of political organization. In rural areas, a BPOU may be an entire county. However, in urban areas, the BPOU encompasses only a particular Senate District or even a single House District.
The BPOU operates as a fairly independent group. It has it's own leadership, membership, budget, etc. During election years, each BPOU elects delegates at it's caucuses, those delegates then endorse candidates for office at that BPOU's convention. During off-election years, it holds conventions to elect officers and other business.
However, a BPOU is also part of hierarchy. Unless, the BPOU is a House District, it will have House Districts within it. Each House District is represented in the state legislature by a Representative. In addition, each BPOU encompasses quite a few precincts. These precincts vary in size but are used to help organize votes and voting locations on Election Day.
A BPOU may contain an entire city, or only part of one. It may contain several cities, or part of several. A BPOU may encompasses an entire county, or only part of one. It may also contain parts of several counties as well. The point being is that there is no easy way to geographically define the boundaries of a BPOU.
So who defines the boundaries? Well they are decided after each census by the state government. The legislature draws the lines and then the governor signs off on them. In reality though, this rarely works out and then the courts end up drawing the lines.
In the case of SD57, which comprises House Districts 57A and 57B cover all of Lakeville as well as Credit River, Elko New Market and Eureka TWNSHP
You may see lots of acronyms being used and they may be confusing at first. Here's a list of some of the more commonly used ones to help you out.
BPOU - Stands for Basic Political Operating Unit, and it's on of the smallest units of political organization. It's the group you'll caucus with early in an election year. It consists of several precincts, but depending on population density it's geographical size can vary. In rural areas it can be a county (or even multiple counties), but in a major metropolis a single city can consist of a number of BPOUs.
CD - Stands for Congressional District, which are determined by the last US Census. Each Congressional District sends one Representative to the US House. It consists of a number of BPOUs, and each BPOU sends delegates to help nominate a candidate.
HD - Stands for House District. Each House District sends one Representative to the Minnesota Legislature. Two House Districts make up one Senate District.
RNC - Stands for Republican National Committee and is the national governing body of the Republican Party.
RPM - Stands for Republican Party of Minnesota, and is the state governing body of the Minnesota Republican Party.
SD -Stands for Senate District. Each Senate District sends one Senator to the Minnesota Legislature.
Oh wow...where do I start?!
Quite simply, a precinct caucus is an event held in even-numbered years, where individuals who live within a certain area, or precinct, and all support a particular party, get together to decide the direction of that party. This is the very start of the political process and you will be helping to select the candidates that the party puts forth in the next election. You will also have the chance to bring forth issues important to you that you would like to see the party address. Each precinct will elect a precinct chair and will nominate delegates (and alternates) to represent them at higher party levels.
Ok great....but what do I do when I show up??
When you show up you'll be asked to sign in. By signing in, you state your general intent to support that party in the upcoming election and that you agree with the principles set forth by that party. From this point you can be as active a participant as you want.
You will be electing delegates and alternates. If you want to represent your precincts at higher levels, then by all means sign up to be a delegate and your fellow precinct members may select you as such. You will then be their voice at higher levels.
If you want to bring forth a particular issue, by all means bring that up when your precinct meets. If you are not elected as delegate, your delegates can then bring this issue up later on in the political process.
You will be electing precincts chairs, these important individuals will represent your precinct in the BPOU committee and vote the day-to-day activities of the BPOU.
Sounds exciting, but am I eligible to participate?
More than likely yes. If you are eligible to vote in that precinct in the next election, you are not active within any other political party and you agree with the principles of that party, then yes!!
Even if you don't meet the above qualifications, you can attend, but will likely not be eligible to be elected as a delegate, alternate or precinct chair.
Ok so I'm eligible, by why should I attend?
Every heard it said that you can't complain about your government if you didn't vote? Well same principle here. It's a very easy way to be active in the party of your choice and to make sure the party is run the way you want. You will have a voice both in what issues are raised and also in selecting the people that run the party.
While precinct caucuses are only the first step in a long political process, they are a step. And they are your doorway to becoming more active in your party. It is your chance to have a say in your party's platform and the candidates it selects. In short, the precinct caucuses give you a voice!