Thursday, January 3, 2008

Stand and be Counted

Yep. That's pretty much all there is to it. Brett & I both went and Caucused today, and it was quite an interesting experience. We silly Southern Californians had no idea how the whole process worked. I had assumed that it worked just like the primary elections that I am used to. You know, where you show up at your polling place sometime throughout the day, bubble in your little circles, and go on your merry way. Caucusing is nothing like that at all. Here's what happens:

Everyone shows up at your polling place at the same time. Yes, the street we live on was a zoo and there was NO PARKING whatsoever. So we parked several blocks away and walked in the sub zero temperatures. How's that for patriotism? :-P

Once you get inside you basically stand in the designated area for your candidate (or in the undecided area if you are undecided). After everyone is in (doors close at 7:00) one person from each campaign goes around and counts how many people are standing in each candidates area. Any candidate that does not have at least 15% of the people present in their area gets eliminated. The people who were supporting that candidate have 30 minutes to decide on another candidate. During this time the campaign people do their best to persuade these people as well as the undecided people to come to vote for their candidate.

Then, everyone gets counted again (if you're lucky, just one more time), and that determines how many delegates get sent to Des Moines for the state caucus. The numbers from our precinct were as follows: Obama 198, Hillary 80, Edwards 70. Biden, Dodd, and Richardson all did not meet the 15% requirement.

All in all it was a very interesting experience, and Brett & I are both glad to have had the opportunity to experience the Iowa Caucuses. What is interesting about it is that it takes the anonymity out of the voting process. Typically you go in to your little booth, fill in your bubbles and walk away and nobody knows who you voted for. This is quite different because you stand in a room with all of your neighbors and everyone sees who everyone is supporting. One thing I kind of like about the process is that if you do vote for someone who doesn't make the cut, you get the opportunity to go on and vote for someone who is still in the running. I like that because that way everyone's vote really matters, and you don't get the feeling like your vote didn't make a difference just because your first choice didn't have enough support.

We don't have any pictures from this adventure, mostly because we were crammed into the school gym like a herd of cattle, and picture taking was a little difficult to manage. That, and a picture of a room full of people just isn't all that interesting. :-)

2 comments:

Brooke said...

Did you get an "I caucused" sticker?

As for photos of people sitting in rooms, you've come across one of the great conundrums of all journalists covering meetings. The problem is that even good meeting pictures are still bad, when compared to most pictures outside of meetings. Because I've been there, whenever I see a "good" meeting picture I rejoice.

dean and chelle said...

Hmmmmm, interesting. They did our caucus a little bit differently. We all were herded around like cattle but the didn't have us vote twice. I wonder if that is because this election was the one where the democrats get to do that and then next election the republicans get to. I know what I want to say but I don't know how to say it. I remember hearing something about how every other election the republics and democrats get to switch times and majority and etc. Anyways, I'll stop talking now.

Good job for caucusing! Wasn't it fun to feel like you were a part of something huge that sets the tone for the nation? I felt like I should have been wearing stars and stripes on my pants and a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt and held up signs that said 'GO USA!"

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