Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Voting in Texas...the day after the "primacaucus"

Well, yesterday was voting day for the 2008 primary/caucus in Texas and I have to say that it was a very long and interesting night. I participated in early voting, so for me last night was all about caucusing, and given the immense voter turn out I am very glad that I did early voting.

The polls were open yesterday until 7:00pm and the caucus was scheduled for 7:15pm. Since I had already voted, I arrived at my polling location at 7:15 to caucus. Upon arrival I discovered over 300 people waiting in line to vote/caucus. This is more than I, personally, have ever seen at this location for any election, including the last National Election.

The high voter turnout was very exciting and heartwarming. I was thoroughly proud of my precinct when I saw hundreds of people waiting for hours to vote & caucus without giving up and going home. It was truly a sight to behold.

There were so many people that were in line by 7:00pm that the caucus was delayed by almost 2 hours. For those of you that are unfamiliar with voting in Texas, anyone that is in line by 7:00pm gets to vote. So don't worry, the 150+ hundred people in line to vote at 7:00, got to vote.

So, as I stated earlier, the caucus was delayed by about 2 hours due to higher than expected voter turnout. Once all the voters were done, the caucuses began. In my precinct the Republican caucus happened first. This was a good idea because the room only holds about 200 people and there were almost 400 participating. Personally, I felt kind of bad for the Republicans that were there because there were very few of them. The polling location staff went up and down the lines asking for the Republicans to go ahead inside and start their caucus. Out of the nearly 400 people I only saw 11 people go inside to participate in the Republican caucus.

Once the Republican caucus was completed the Democratic caucus began. We started by forming two single file lines and waiting in queue to sign in. The sign in process was fairly simple. You just had to fill out a form with your Name, Complete Address, and Candidate choice. Then you simply find a place to sit and wait for everyone to finish signing in. Due to the fact that we had almost 400 people signing in to caucus the sign in process took quite a while. After everyone was seated we voted for a Chair and Secretary. The choices were nominated by the crowd and it seems as if we made a good choice, as the rest of our caucus only took about 15 minutes. Having been there for 3 hours a smooth process was exactly what we all wanted and needed. Once the Chair and Secretary were elected, we broke into groups. Those for Hillary Clinton were on one side of the room and those for Barack Obama were on the other side. Next it was time to nominate delegates and alternate delegates. We started by asking who wanted to be a delegate and 24 people volunteered, which was convenient since we needed to find 24 delegates. We then did the same for alternate delegates. Once the delegates were chosen, we voted to confirm them, and recorded the vote on paper. After that we were done, so we adjourned the caucus.

All in all, I spent a little more than 3.5 hours at my polling location but it was all worth it. I got to find out how the caucus and delegate process works and I am happy to say that I am now a democratic delegate! I will make sure to report back after the Travis County Convention on March 29th. It should be very interesting to see how a larger convention works.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and I look forward to reading your comments.

Best of Luck!


Kelly Blanscet (aka graphic granola) said...

I was extremely pleased to see so many Texans enthusiastically participating in the primaries. It is also exhilarating that Texas was a focus and that this primary actually meant something significant. I honestly didn't even know that Texas had a caucus, so this was a new experience for me. I also voted early so I could focus on the caucus Tuesday evening. So I enjoyed the long lines because for me they represented community, participation and democracy.

You mentioned, "The polling location staff went up and down the lines asking for the Republicans to go ahead inside and start their caucus. Out of the nearly 400 people I only saw 11 people go inside to participate in the Republican caucus." I had a similar experience in my precinct with huge long lines for Obama and the staff asking Hillary supporters to move ahead, there was no waiting for the Clinton supporter sign-in sheet. Really blew my mind and drew enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. Such a buzz to see democracy in action.

ice said...

I was very pleased at the turnout too. For the first time in my life one of the parties primaries actually counted and that was the first time in my life that I have ever had to wait to vote in a primary. I just wanted to let you know that only the Democrats have a caucus ofter their primary. The Republicans only have a convention.
That's part of the reason for the low turnout, that and the fact that the republican race was basically over anyway, so a lot of people said" why bother".