Caucus? Caucus? Who’s got the caucus?

This afternoon we went to the Democratic Caucus.

While Pure Luck, The Princess and I waited outside in line, fat flakes of snow
soaking into our coats and scarves, The Father of My Children walked up
and joined us for an hour’s wait on the sidewalk and another long wait inside. The four of us went through the whole process together,
and we saw a lot of people we have known over the years as the line
snaked through the high school. I must say that the expressions on the
faces of people who have known our family for many years were
priceless! Yes, there is Songbird, with both her husbands…

City By the Sea had an unbelievable number of new voters (either new registrants or new Democrats), the place was packed, there was no way the party was prepared to handle the numbers. It was sadly shortsighted of the City Democratic Committee not to
expect a large turnout when they have been so common in this election
cycle. I’ve been reading the comments
from readers on the brief item and the longer statewide story posted tonight on the local paper’s
website. I’ll be interested to see if newspaper and TV accounts reflect
what people experienced there.

The bright notes included seeing a multicultural turnout that included both newly registering voters and volunteers at the registration tables. City By the Sea has a good-sized population of immigrants from African countries, many of them Muslim. To see three young women wearing headscarves with their "City By the Sea Democrats" t-shirts delighted me. And I am grateful to the young woman who made me a new "ballot" when I nervously filled in Pure Luck’s name instead of mine. D’oh!

The reason I was thinking of his name instead of mine? After all that waiting we discovered that he was registered as "Undeclared." I asked him why, as a lifelong Democrat, he hadn’t declared a party when he registered in City By the Sea a few years ago?

"Probably a fit of pique," he answered; I am happy to say there was no such fit today, just a tired decision to go home rather than wait in another line of literally hundreds of people waiting to change their registration or register for the first time.

When offered the opportunity to use the caucus registration form as
an absentee ballot, I took the offer and departed, because after almost
three hours of waiting in line, still damp from the snow, we were just
done. I have no idea whether my ballot was actually counted. We walked back to the car in time to see a beautiful sunset in the distance.

I guess those who stuck around finally got to "caucus" this evening, by which time I had tucked up on the couch with knitting and husband to watch our DVDs of Season 3 of "Lost." Now, that’s something we can all endorse!

12 thoughts on “Caucus? Caucus? Who’s got the caucus?”

  1. Wow… it’s great that there was such a wonderful turnout, but I hate you didn’t get to do the “official” caucusing. That’s a good bit of waiting patiently for sure. But, as long as your voices were heard, that’s what is important… well, that and seeing that sunset. ;c)

  2. Here in Uppity Coastal College Town, we also had long, long lines. And I stood in a really long one purely because of bad memory — I was afraid that I too had had a “fit of pique” back in ’05 and registered as Undeclared — after 2 1/2 hours of standing in line — I found I was indeed registered as a Democrat! (The fit would have been caused by the MN DFL, anyway.) The line to register or affiliate was incredibly long. Several women in my approximate age group were by me and had all been registered Undeclared for years…this was the first time they had been motivated to change. Everyone was very good-tempered. After finally getting into my precinct room, and being given a chair by a very handsome older man, and seeing the near-whiteout conditions outside, we learned that State HQ had given permission for us to write our preference on the registration form and leave if we didn’t want to be delegates. So I and The Photographer did so. Came home to power outage (our first since moving here) and a bit of worry that it would be a long one, but it only lasted about 1 1/2 hours. There were lots of Uppity College students there and also, if my discerning is correct, a fair number of the “will turn 18 before Election Day” crowd. Good sign! I’m glad I did it.

  3. We had our primary on Saturday…the first closed primary in a huge number of years. For once I voted for the winning candidate. And, amazingly my Republican husband is very seriously considering voting for our candidate if he makes it to the general election….Obama is truly a uniter.

  4. Oh my LORD! I had absolutely no idea. Suddenly the simplicity of the UK system. A Registration card arrives for everyone eligible to vote, – (you fill in a form to join the register of electors and every year they check details are unchanged)you take that to the polling station on voting day, and exchange it for a ballot slip, your details are checked off a file, you vote secretly and go home.
    Longest it has ever taken me…10 minutes, when I had to stop to sort out a wailing infant (can’t remember which it was)
    No wonder American elections get so much coverage…the process itself is a melodrama!
    Hope you have now thawed xx

  5. Kathryn–not all of us have the dramatic experience–mine was much more like yours. Except I didn’t have to take them anything–just walk in the door of my polling place, tell them who I was, get checked off a list, get a ballot, vote, stick it in the machine, get an “i voted” sticker, and leave. 7 minutes max, including parking.
    SB–wow! I can’t believe the lines were so crazy. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would take so long just to get IN to the caucus….glad you were able to vote anyway. 🙂

  6. Kathryn, Teri is right. If this had been a primary, rather than a caucus, I would have done what she described. The idea of a caucus is that you get to talk with your local group about who you support. I guess Maine’s have been under-attended in the past because things weren’t “in play” by the time ours came along the way they are this year? Anyway, it was quite a scene.

  7. I register as unafilliated more often than not (up til now I’ve been in states that allow you to vote at the primary, though) because you don’t get all that obnoxious campaign mail or phone calls that way.

  8. Songbird said: “I must say that the expressions on the faces of people who have known our family for many years were priceless! Yes, there is Songbird, with both her husbands…”
    Songbird, as my sister Beth would say, “How very new millennium of you. . .” (giggle)

  9. i’ve mostly always lived in suburban parts of urban areas; the top wait to vote for me has been about 15 minutes. this time, i walked in, signed the book of registered voters, chatted, got my ballot and voted, declined the offer of cookies brought by the poll volunteers, and walked out with my “i voted” sticker in about 3 minutes.
    auntie knickers and songbird — it’s wonderful that LOTS of new voters turned out! wish they’d had the arrangements to accomodate everyone!
    sherry, one of my closest friends is republican, and we have a pact to not discuss politics. but i think she may be leaning toward obama, too.

  10. I can’t say as I’ve ever known of a caucus around here. We just voted the primary. It’s good news that yours was surprisingly crowded.
    Good for you, Songbird for being able to be friends with the ex. It’s a hard thing to do. Most people don’t take the time.

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