Jeff Reese walks us through what the caucus process in Colorado was like on Super Tuesday.
The Ambien and trazodone are about to come on … the ability to type is being hampered. I can feel my brain slowing down. In the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson (let’s call this “bozo journalism” instead), I decided this may be the best way to relay the absolute clusterfuck that the caucus prospect really is.
Disenfranchisement through process, a virtual poll tax in the primary portions of our state [Colorado] election process. Voters needed to arrive between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. I was fortunate enough to finish my dinner at the Afghan restaurant with my son and Jay Johnson (shout out to Maza Kabob, amazing food—if you’re in Fort Collins, go get some) early enough to find parking not too far from the entrance of the high school.
The line stretched out the door, I took my place in line and realized that the numbers are definitely in support of Bernie and, aside from a few outliers, most on the rival’s side were pretty demographically predictable. With no direction, people milled around like ants that lost the trail of their leader, seeking out their assigned precinct numbers which were on small signs affixed to tables in the cafeteria; a cafeteria that probably only handles a couple hundred kids at a time, yet on this night was being used by approximately 3,000 people eager to support their candidate.
Finally, after you waded through the mass of confused, engaged voters and found your table, you stared blankly at everyone not having a clue as to what to do next. It was 6:00 p.m. when I arrived and this next section ate up an hour. Eventually, a precinct captain evolved the power of speech and whispered, “Form two lines … the left line for those with last names A – Kr and the right for those Kr – Z.” It was repeated endlessly in hopes that someone actually would be listening, and slowly the process inched forward.
The war of attrition had begun. Was the heat, mindless boredom, or hunger going to thin the herd? How committed was that 70-year-old Hillary supporter? Was she willing to stand for two hours? Was that Bernie supporter gonna come down off those edibles and realize the whole thing was bullshit and decide to do something productive like jerk off? Was he gonna decide to do it on the spot? Now that would be a raucous caucus (sorry). No such distraction occurred.
Finally, you figured out where to sign that you had sufficient free time, motivation, and either were willing to bore your young children to death (and inflict their bad behavior on strangers in cramped quarters) or you could afford a babysitter so you could spend two hours standing around wondering who was in charge? The secret answer … no one. NO ONE IS IN CHARGE.
Also, you were given a blue piece of paper … no explanation as to what purpose said piece of paper served. It’s a process that was probably amazingly effective when only white male landowners were allowed to caucus. “I nominate Bob for Sherriff. George, do you agree?” Seems simple ….
But, getting multiple groups of 120 voters just to figure out where to spread out to so the next steps could be done without interfering with other precincts? Very difficult.
Eventually, the precinct I was a part of got separated down the hall. After figuring out who didn’t get their blue piece of paper (yes, they actually ran out of blue pieces of paper), they were given small purple pieces of paper. They separated us by candidate. “Bernie on the Left, Hillary on the Right.” The Hillary supporter actually said that without seeming to get the joke.
At that moment, you realized that Sanders had roughly double the supporters than Hillary, with two undecided (no clue how that happened). Short speeches on behalf of the candidates were given by one of each candidate’s supporters. The Bernie speech was done by a woman who really didn’t have much in the way of public speaking skills and it was made more difficult because there was no amplification. Hillary’s supporter obviously not only had spoken in public before but had rehearsed his particular speech.
Then, came the vote … you wrote the letter “H” or “B” on your piece of paper and put it in an envelope. They then counted the total voters to apportion the total number of delegates. We had 126 from our district which gave us 7 total delegates to apportion based on the results. After that was counted three or four times, then they were counted by candidate. Hillary received approximately 40 votes and Bernie 80, so the delegates were divided 2 for Hillary and 5 for Bernie.
They then asked for volunteers to be delegates at the county convention and later for the state convention. I gave them my business card. If that doesn’t scare them off, I’ll hopefully be writing again on this process.
Hopefully the confusion, boredom, and discomfort was conveyed properly in this rambling.
To see the complete photo set that Jeff Reese took of this experience, CLICK HERE.