Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Record Turnout in Texas Curtails Caucusing

At least in my district...

I went to go participate in the Texas Democratic caucuses today which in my precinct was being held at a middle school half a mile away from my home. I left work half an hour early to be sure I got there in a timely manner. Upon arrival at the school first thing I noticed was that the parking lot and surrounding streets were packed with cars. I noticed a few stray Huckabee supporters that strongly resembled some extras from the movie Deliverance holding signs at the correct mandated distance from the polling place. I parallel parked on a side street (took two tries to get it right) and entered the school.

There were three precincts voting/caucusing there and I guesstimated that there was around 150 people there for the caucuses. I then checked the line for voters and it was then I realized we were going to hit a snafu. At 15 minutes before the caucus was to begin the number of primary voters exceeded the number of caucus goers. There were three people processing voters and four voting machines. Looks like the caucuses were going to be delayed a bit. It was announced 15 minutes later that there were over 100 people in line and that the caucus would start about an hour late. And then a bad thing happened...

20% of the caucus goers got up and left.

And over the course of the next hour more seemed to just vanish. Until eventually the number of people attending the caucuses dropped by roughly a third. Largely I attribute that to the fact that the guy explaining the caucus procedure made it abundantly clear the actual caucus itself would be a major investment of time in and of itself. First each precinct would vote for their candidates then we'd divide into two groups and elect a secretary. Then we'd vote on precinct delegates to send to the senate convention then from those we'd vote on a chairman and then we'd vote on an equal number of alternates and then the floor would open for debate on resolutions proposed by the state Democratic party which would each be voted on individually.

I continued to stick it out. I checked in on the twelve Republicans that has shown up to caucus. One white early twenty something couple and ten white haired Caucasian males sat in the library not talking to each other. I wish I had had a camera as it was that sad. I pondered the meaning of it. Finally after an hour and a half I checked the line of voters and it was down to around thirty people. So I did the math and then I too left.

I did so for several reasons. I hadn't had dinner, I would have had maybe thirty minutes to spend with my family before they went to bed, and because I was in the military and I know a cluster$*ck when I see one. But what really set the stage for my exit was when someone complained to the guy in charge (who is also in charge of the Senate/district convention) said,"Well this is what happens when you people don't participate for years and then all show up at once." Not exactly representative democracy's finest moment. I'm glad I went. I learned a few things. But I'm also glad I left. I have no use for a state party that resents the sudden participation of its followers.

Sometimes its good to be an independent.