Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sowing the Seeds of Democracy

Last Saturday our state held its political caucuses. We almost missed out on a political adventure! Since we had received our ballots for the primary, we had been tuning out all the chatter about the caucuses. It turns out that both parties here have caucuses and primaries.
Walking to the local school where we were assigned to caucus was like going to a huge block party. We greeted our neighbors and chatted with the other doggy parents that we meet on our early morning walks with Diva Dog.
Complete chaos comes to mind in describing the check-in process once we arrived at the school. First we had to fight the crowds to get close enough to view the precinct map in order to figure out our precinct number. Once we had accomplished that feat, we had to fight the crowds to get to our precinct table in order to sign in. When we signed in we were asked to declare our candidate preference or write "uncommitted". No I.D. was required at any point during this entire caucus process. Before leaving the house we had gone on a mad search to find our voter registration cards so we could prove, when asked, that yes, we were indeed party members.
After signing in, we milled around while the crowds got thicker and the temperature in the crowded-beyond-legal-capacity gym got hotter. Eventually, a speaker came to the mike. He welcomed us, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and then gave a supporter for each candidate one minute to speak. Next, we left the gym and went with our precinct to an assigned room where a tally counter and a secretary were selected from amongst those of us present. While the tally counter counted the sign-in sheets to see how many people had declared themselves for each candidate, the rest of us were asked to speak for each candidate--again one minute. After two minutes, we were asked to bring forth any resolutions we wished carried forward to the next level of the process. There were quite a few resolutions put forth on a wide range of topics from income tax to gay marriage to the environment.
The tallying and counting in our group was a painfully long and slow process due, perhaps, to our tally counter having a PhD in mathematics. Once the numbers were in, we were separated into groups for each candidate. Our precinct had 7 delagates to distribute among the candidate groups. The delegates would be selected by each group. These people would be moving on to the county level of the party process. The undecideds at this point had had two whole minutes of reasons why they should declare themselves for one candidate or the other. There was a chance for people to change their preference on their sign-in sheets. This in turn required the math PhD tally counter to recount.
All in all the experience of attending our first political caucus was chaotic, hot, inefficient, overcrowded, energizing, entertaining, exhilerating, fun.

1 comment:

Kerri said...

This was fun to read :) I'm sure glad our voting experience was very, very short and sweet compared to yours! What if your tally counter hadn't had a PhD in Mathematics?!! LOL