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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Vote, Baby, Vote

Today is Caucus Day for Democrats in WA state.

My precinct caucus was held at an elementary school about 10 blocks away, and it was PACKED! My completely rough estimate is that between 3,000 and 3,500 people showed up (WA 37th Legislative is the most heavily Democratic leaning district in the state).

Here's a photo of the crowd inside the school's gym, where about a quarter of the precincts caucused:

It got so crowded just before we broke up into our indivual precinct caucuses that a school official got on the intercom to beg people to vacate the building once they'd registered their vote, so that they could get the capacity inside the building down below fire-code limits.

From the looks of things a lot of people were clearly first-timers, because there seemed to be quite a bit of confusion about the process: people had trouble figuring out their precincts, then locating them, then figuring out how to register their preferences. The volunteers were for the most part helpful, but it was a little appalling that I actually had to explain to one of them how things progressed through the county and state caucus process (I was a state delegate for Edwards in 2004).

Still, people figured things out pretty quickly, and we had our final vote count: 81 for Obama, 9 for Clinton, 2 undecided; tallied up about 15 minutes after we started.

(Here's our PCO and another volunteer counting up the votes)

From what I was able to observe, most of the other precincts in the gym were running similar totals, with Obama dominating at about 7 or 8-to-1. Based on reports I'm seeing at local newspaper web sites and on other blogs, it looks like Obama is going to run away with WA with at least a 4-to-1 majority of delegates.

I've seen a lot of comments around the sites complaining about the messiness and seeming chaos of the caucusing process; it disenfranchises people who couldn't make it to their caucus; there were too many last-minute site changes due to the unprecedented turnout; it took too much time; etc., etc. Yeah, it's messy, and at times may appear disorganized (we're Democrats, after all!), but, I for one appreciate the direct, face-to-face, participatory nature of it all. You get to meet your neighbors, engage in some one-on-one dialogue and debate, and people have the opportunity to represent their immediate locale as the process continues to the county, and later state conventions. Sure, it's not a "secret" ballot, in the sense that people are looking over your shoulder as you state your preference, but it also means you get to defend your choice in a public forum, and perhaps even, occasionally sway someone to change their vote.

I did learn one important lesson today - which surprisingly, had absolutely nothing to do with politics: a "death coffee" (my recipe: a square of 87% cocoa dark chocolate - although in this instance I had to settle for a generous squeeze of chocolate syrup - melted into a medium drip coffee with a shot of espresso "depth charged" into it), PLUS a Cupcake Royale "Deathcake" is, as one might suspect a potentially DEADLY combination. Four hours later and I'm still so wired I swear the molecules at the tips of my fingers are actually vibrating THROUGH the molecules of my keyboard; the action really feels just a little "stickier" than normal.

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Posted byCOMTE on 5:00 PM

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