Archive for the ‘Political caucuses’ Category

Political caucuses usually don’t have exit polls, but had there been one on Feb. 5, a wide range of attitudes could have been discovered about citizenship responsibilities in a democracy.

Record-breaking numbers of first-time participants joined in with seasoned participants. For the most part, parking at school sites was terrible. Rooms were crowded and noisy. Some tried participating but gave up while others couldn’t get in the door.

Most of the fault for this chaos falls on first-time participants whose only goal was to vote at the caucus for their favorite presidential candidate. Their lack of understanding that caucuses differ from primary elections set unrealistic expectations they would vote soon after walking through the door.

Despite this error, Dave Rogers of Erie, who responded for this column, made a lot of sense in reflecting on the caucus. “I think it would be best if we all went. It’s better to go than not go.” He quickly added, “I’d better slap my hand for that one.” Rogers was out of town on caucus day and has yet to attend one.

Understanding the value of caucuses would help. Our country is governed “for the people and by the people.” This requires that people work. The work done at the caucuses could not be completed if Colorado had primary elections and is more than a quick vote in a presidential race. Those who took the opportunity to avoid the crowds and simply vote before leaving as fast as they could missed out on the real caucus, the grassroots level of government.

Rogers and others who have not attended a caucus could benefit from a little information about them. Caucuses usually begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, a chairperson for the evening is voted into service. As the evening proceeds, participants vote for delegates and alternates to the county, U.S. congressional district and state conventions.

In small groups, “voting” is a term loosely used as positions fall to whoever wants to do them and has the dates available. Then, participants can propose resolutions to be considered at the county convention and possibly higher conventions. There’s always a call for election judges, as they are always needed. Toward the end of the meeting, which lasts about an hour and a half, participants vote for the candidates they want to support in contested races in their own parties. The big attraction this year, of course, was candidates running to be our nation’s president.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, many precincts held caucuses in homes. Imagine that. Big crowds were broken down into small groups with less noise, more parking, more conversations and more participation. In earlier times as the appointed date approached, precinct committee people called precinct party members to invite them to the caucuses.

In many precincts, a typical attendance number was 12. More certainly would have been welcomed.

Caucuses could again be held in homes to help more participate. It’s more commitment than entering a voting booth but well worth the step.

Source: Published Feb. 24, 2008 Daily Camera

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