Saturday, January 19, 2008

Caucus is a Verb

This morning Ella and I attended the Republican caucus here in Nevada. I have always lived (and thus voted) in states with primaries and I mostly went to see how a caucus works. It was very interesting and I really wish everyone "voted" this way. It was truly democracy at work.

We showed up at our caucus site (a high school) and there were about 200 precincts caucusing at this site. Each precinct was assigned a different room. We had 15 people from our precinct present. I was expecting someone from the Republican party to be in our room to run things, but no one was there. We ran our precinct caucus all on our own -- and none of us had ever caucused before! It was so cool! One gentleman volunteered to go get our packet from the folks in charge. He read the directions of how to do things to us and we preceded. We voted in a caucus chairman (our volunteer) and another lady to be the caucus secretary. They checked out photo IDs against the provided list. If you weren't registered you could still vote as long as you signed and affidavit.

The first order of business was electing precinct delegates to the county convention. Our precinct needed to elect 7 delegates to send to the county convention (then the county elects delegates to the state convention and the state elects delegates to the national convention). I was one of the 7 delegates "elected" from our precinct (we volunteered) to attend the county convention in April. They wanted to send Ella, but she is too young! It was really cool to see people step up and volunteer to go. I was expecting this to be just a formality -- that the Republican party would have pre-selected delegates to go. No such thing. We voted ourselves in to go.

Next, everyone was given the opportunity to stand up and speak on behalf of the candidate they supported. Each candidate on the ballot was allowed a total of 2 minutes. We had a brief discussion about Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, but that was it. The ballots were then distributed and we each voted and handed them back in. The ballots were counted by our chairman, out loud, right there in the room and recorded by the secretary. That sheet was then turned in to the party. Romney won our precinct -- I was the lone Thompson supporter! And then we were done. It took about an hour total.

This was by far the most hands-on experience I've ever had in politics and I've been involved in politics since childhood. When you vote in a primary or general election, you walk in and cast a vote, but really have no idea what happens next. It was really cool sit there with a bunch of like-minded folks, discuss our views, and be involved in the future of our nation. Interestingly, the room was evenly split between "older" folks and "younger" folks. It was great to see so many young people involved!

I'm very excited to be able to go on to the county level and see how that works. If this had been a primary, I would never have had that chance -- I have no idea how precinct delegates are chosen in primary states (even though both my parents have done it before). So I'm feeling very "American" today and perhaps a bit more hopeful as it seems my vote and my voice really did count today.

1 Thoughts From Others:

ErinOrtlund said...

That's neat you got to experience that!

I've been to a caucus at the local government level. The only thing I didn't like was that people's votes were not private.

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