My first caucus

Today I experienced my first presidential caucus.  I have never had a political party allegiance and I have gone back and forth in my voting over the years.  I found a site that let me enter in my priorities for issues facing the nation and then weighted my importance on those issues.  Surprising to me but only a 75% match as my top match was Barack Obama with John McCain a close second.  With that in mind I went to the Democratic caucus at a local elementary school about ten blocks from my house.  My brother and I got there about quarter to one PM and the line was very long and almost wrap around the three sides of the property of the school.  While I had looked for my voter’s card I could not find but inside they had maps of our part of the city and we found our precinct.  From there went to a table and were able to sign in.  There was no verification taken of who we were and we were never asked for our id or anything.  It was utter chaos as our table was right by the entrance and many people though they needed to sign in at our table.  The guy standing near our table told us after we signed in to head to the gym where they would be giving general instructions. 

We went into the gym and the place was packed.  The temperature was at least 15 degrees warmer and the guy on stage at the mic was trying to explain that people needed to look at a map to find their precinct and then there were smaller maps showing you where in the school was your sign in table.  We waited until about 1:30 when I had read that the doors were supposed to close and things were supposed to get going.  We had not heard a general announcement but we headed back to our table.  By this point we did start to hear that the building was too full and that we were violating the fire code.  My brother had made the same comment in the gym as it was really packed.

Back at our table people were still trying to sign in but they had run out of forms for people to sign in on.  People used the backs but they started to be full also.  Finally, someone brought more forms.  By 1:45 pm people had stopped walking in the entrance near our table and they had started to divide people into their first voting preference.  Our little area was about one third Clinton and two thirds Obama and a few undecided.  The guy running our table had said that in 2004 they had had only 10 people for the precinct and there were more like 40-60 that were there.  It was about this point that we saw our neighbors from across the street walk in and they went to look at the map but we kept trying to tell them they were at the right place.  We went to look at the map to help show them and it was at this point we realized that our street was a dividing line and that we in fact were at the wrong precinct table (or at that point it put in doubt that we were at the wrong place) and they by going to ours were at the right one.  I went to look at the map to find what part of the school we needed to go to and it was to a table back in the gym.  We worked our way back towards the gym fighting our way through different tables of people.  Every other table seemed to be further along in the process as people were making speeches about their candidates helping to convert those in the room and help with the undecided.  The process was one where you could change your “vote” once and then you were done.  At our table they were sending 6 delegates to the next round and they started to do the tally on how many they currently had per candidate.  Drew and I went to look for the place we really were supposed to be.

I found our new table and it was really packed.  At this point it seemed kind of pointless to fight our way to the table and it looked like they had closed sign-ins.  Drew wanted to leave and since it was supposed to end by 2 pm I was ready to leave also – it was already around 2:20 pm.  All and all it was just a mess.  When we were in the gym they talked about how they did not expected to see so many people.  How can you have a lot of faith in a party that would fail to plan with something as simple as a caucus?  Being by the entrance there were a lot of people looking to register to vote so they could participate but the people look lost as to point them to where to go.  It was so understaffed and the staff could not be heard when they tried to speak.  No one was every checking id so I doubt you really need to register.   I saw no one doing any type of validation at all.  They really needed a lot more organization.


About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
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