The Washington Times - August 13, 2011, 05:22PM

The Iowa Straw Poll is huge priority for presidential primary candidates to endear themselves to voters in the Hawkeye state during a presidential campaign season and this summer could very well prove to be a record turn out. 15,000 to 20,000 people are expected to show up.

First and foremost the straw poll, which began in 1972, is a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa. It is held every four to eight year depending on whether or not there is a primary coming up.  It precedes the caucus which is generally held in the beginning of the election year, and the Iowa Caucus is in February. 

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Voting began at 10am CST and ended at 4pm. Candidates then gave speeches to crowds of their supporters from between 12pm and 3pm. The grounds are opened to the public but to vote one needs to purchase a ticket. A number of campaigns are providing the tickets which cost $30 each.

There are two voting locations The Hilton Coliseum and the Sheman building where there’s several voting booths. All of the voting is overseen by the secretary of state’s office. They’re going to validate everything before the results are released.

In order to vote in the Iowa Straw poll voters must:

Show a valid Iowa drivers license or state ID proving residency

Be at least 18 years of age

However, voters in the straw poll do not need need to be a registered Iowa voter or a registered Republican. After they vote, straw poll voters must dip their index finger in pink ink that doesn’t come off for a few days.  

In essence, the Iowa straw poll is more of a pre-cursor to the Iowa Caucus later in February.

“The caucus is statewide. That’s called a precinct caucus. Everyone refers to the caucus but it’s a precinct caucus so we have about 1800 precincts in Iowa, so on a cold winter night on February 6 every precinct will have a Republican caucus—a Republican meeting,” said Tim Moran of the Iowa GOP State Central Committee.

“They are going to begin what is called a caucus convention process where they put together their proposal for a platform for our party which is something we do every two years. And in the middle of that meeting at 7pm There’s a preferential presidential poll and that’s what everybody watches.”