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Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:17 PM

Outraged Bernie supporter reveals caucus truth: they're voter suppression

Last edited Tue Mar 29, 2016, 07:15 PM - Edit history (1)

This Bernie supporter is outraged that caucuses aren't conducted like primaries -- that they begin at a set time and end when business is over, and you can't stroll in all day and vote. He made a video of voters arriving an hour and a half or more after the caucus was over, who were shocked to find out they couldn't vote.

And he's livid.

That's because he doesn't understand that this is the NORM for caucuses. But what he DOES understand, correctly, is that caucuses are a form of voter suppression.

That is why they exist. And in WA and other states they've been very successful in keeping turnout down to about 5-6%.

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Reply Outraged Bernie supporter reveals caucus truth: they're voter suppression (Original post)
pnwmom Mar 2016 OP
revbones Mar 2016 #1
monicaangela Mar 2016 #2
revbones Mar 2016 #3
pnwmom Mar 2016 #4
monicaangela Mar 2016 #5
pnwmom Mar 2016 #6
brush Mar 2016 #13
revbones Mar 2016 #14
brush Mar 2016 #15
pnwmom Mar 2016 #22
revbones Mar 2016 #24
pnwmom Mar 2016 #26
revbones Mar 2016 #27
pnwmom Mar 2016 #33
revbones Mar 2016 #36
pnwmom Mar 2016 #37
jwirr Mar 2016 #17
brush Mar 2016 #19
jwirr Mar 2016 #40
pnwmom Mar 2016 #23
CoffeeCat Mar 2016 #30
pnwmom Mar 2016 #35
libodem Mar 2016 #7
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2016 #9
pnwmom Mar 2016 #11
libodem Mar 2016 #12
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2016 #31
revbones Mar 2016 #25
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2016 #8
pnwmom Mar 2016 #10
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2016 #29
pnwmom Mar 2016 #32
Spitfire of ATJ Mar 2016 #38
pnwmom Mar 2016 #39
jwirr Mar 2016 #16
pnwmom Mar 2016 #18
SunSeeker Mar 2016 #20
pnwmom Mar 2016 #21
Agnosticsherbet Mar 2016 #28
Dawson Leery Mar 2016 #34

Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:20 PM

1. I'm torn

 

There are so many shenanigans that go on with primaries and regular elections. It seems like it's a little harder to cheat at a caucus where you're counting actual people.

I understand that they are difficult due to time constraints, but just wanted to add out one valid reason for having them.

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Response to revbones (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:23 PM

2. My sentiments exactly!

Less voter suppression here than in primaries. And, if you arrive an hour and a half after the polls close in a primary you won't get to vote then either..Is that a form of voter suppression?

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Response to monicaangela (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:24 PM

3. Excellent point. nt

 

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Response to monicaangela (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:36 PM

4. No, we have BOTH here, and there's far MORE voter suppression in the caucus system.

We have a primary system, that the voters strongly approved by referendum, but only the GOP uses it to assign their delegates. (All the voters get to pay for it, however.) Registered voters are automatically sent a paper ballot and have a few weeks to mail it in or drop it in a box. (Using an outer signed envelope and an inner privacy envelope.)

Three times as many Democratic voters participate in the primary even though it's a beauty contest only -- all the delegates are allocated through the caucuses that happen first.

We are a large rural state, with some caucus locations located three hours or more away from voters. Try telling those people their votes are not being suppressed.

Or my son, who couldn't vote because he is an out of state college student. (And he couldn't vote there because he needed to be a legal resident here.)

Or anyone who is shy and doesn't want to stand in a crowded caucus and argue with his neighbors; or anyone who doesn't want her boss or spouse to know who she voted for.

Three times as many people participate in the primary as in the caucus, because the caucuses require so much more effort. This is voter suppression, and that's why so many states switched to more inclusive and representative primaries long ago.

ON EDIT: If the polls required everyone to arrive at a set time on primary day, and closed a few hours later; and if out of state college students didn't qualify for absentee ballots, people here would be screaming about voter suppression. But somehow we think it's fine when caucuses are run like that.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #4)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:44 PM

5. Voter suppression takes many more forms than that...

These are some of the many quiet tactics she's talking about, along with some others that are more overtly suspicious, compiled with help from the Brennan report:

1. Changing polling locations. An election official can make this call just days before an election.

2. Changing polling hours or eliminating early voting days. This may be particularly problematic in urban counties where long polling lines are most likely, as Henry Grabar reported last fall.

3. Reducing the number of polling places. This raises the same problem as above, particularly when the eliminated polling places had disproportionately served minority communities.

4. At-large elections. At-large elections for school-board members or city councils often dilute the voting power of minorities who have greater influence in single-candidate district elections. In an at-large election, a cohesive voting block with 51 percent of the vote can elect 100 percent of the officials.

5. Packing majority-minority districts. Election maps drawn to push all of a community's minorities in one or a handful of districts can dilute their voting power.

6. Dividing minority districts. Similarly, election maps can slice minority communities into multiple districts so that they have no cumulative influence in any one place. The line between these two tactics is a fine one (and also illustrates why the VRA was useful for assessing facts on the ground).

7. Voter ID laws: This increasingly popular tactic, sometimes likened to a modern-day poll tax, has the potential to disenfranchise voters who don't have a driver's license, or who don't have the money or ability to obtain one (a disproportionate share of these people are minorities). Such laws can also have a disproportionate impact in cities, where many people don't own cars.

8. Onerous candidate qualifications. In 2007, a Texas provision tried to limit those people eligible to become water district supervisors to landowners who were registered to vote.

9. Changing multi-lingual voter assistance. Making it harder for non-English language speakers to vote is a good way to dilute their power.

10. Changing election dates. Another trick that may not require legislative approval.

11. Creating new elections. In 2006, the DOJ objected to a plan in the Houston area that would have eliminated some joint elections and required voters to travel to multiple polling places.

12. Canceling elections. We're not even really sure how Kilmichael, Mississippi, thought they could get away with this.

It is not just caucuses, it is elections period. Mostly thanks to the republican party, but democrats are involved as well. Instead of complaining about caucuses, it may be a better idea to take a look at all elections.

http://www.citylab.com/politics/2013/06/12-very-real-voter-suppression-tactics-experts-now-worry-will-come-back/6057/

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Response to monicaangela (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:48 PM

6. Yes, those are forms of suppression. But suppression is built into caucus DNA,

it's not some dirty trick or one-off, and most progressives understand this and that's why most states have moved to primaries.

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Response to revbones (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 08:50 PM

13. Voter fraud shennigans are just repug talking points to persuade people . . .

that there is a wide-spread problem of voter fraud. Don't fall for it.

Only .00000013 percent of the votes cast are actual voter fraud as it's really a ridiculously inefficient way to try to manipulate an election.

Now election fraud by tampering with election machine software is a really efficient way if you control the software, and it can be done remotely.

And guess who makes voting machines and the software and insists that they can't make them provide a paper trail like say, ATMs that we all use mutiple times a week and get a detailed paper receipt of our transaction repug-run corporations like Diebold.

My point in outlining this is that caucuses are outmoded and inefficient and by definition vote suppression devices because of their short time windows to get into them and then the long time it takes to vote, as opposed to primaries where you can vote anytime during the day and be in and out in 15 minutes.

We just have to demand that voting machines have transparency and paper trails with the programming and paper trails for individual voters.

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Response to brush (Reply #13)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 08:53 PM

14. I'm more concerned with voter suppression and election fraud.

 

I think we all agree voter fraud is unlikely to exist in any meaningful percentage. I was using shennigans in reference to things like changing affiliation, etc...

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Response to revbones (Reply #14)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 08:58 PM

15. That's a software problem and who controls the software

It definitely needs to be made transparent and public.

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Response to revbones (Reply #14)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:50 PM

22. Caucuses ARE designed to suppress the vote. It's built into their DNA.

No progressive should be supporting them and that's why, beginning in the 70's, most states switched to primaries.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #22)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:54 PM

24. Like I said, I'm torn

 

the benefit I see to caucuses is that you are counting people. I agree it's hard to make the time, etc... Primaries seem much easier prey for fraud.

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Response to revbones (Reply #24)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:56 PM

26. Didn't you see the youtube videos of the Iowa caucuses,

where they were trying to count hundreds of milling voters who were holding up their hands in the air? And not using any paper ballots?

You think primaries are more likely to involve fraud?

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #26)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:01 PM

27. People are so quick to be snide here.

 

I merely related that I was personally torn on the issue of primaries vs. caucuses. I didn't try to argue any specific point. I just said I thought a benefit was the added difficulty in some specific shenanigans. I even related that I understood some of the issues with caucuses.

Why would any of that be deserving of you being snide?

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Response to revbones (Reply #27)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 12:04 AM

33. Sorry. I was wrong if you haven't been participating in it. But the immediate reaction of many

people here to the vote problems in Arizona was that it was all Hillary's fault. Which is nonsense because the state and its election system is controlled by the GOP.

So I've been trying to let people know that caucuses were set up to limit voter participation. How come so many Bernie voters have no problems with long caucus lines but they blame Hillary for long lines in Arizona?

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #33)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 01:49 AM

36. I'm not sure anyone is "ok" with long caucus lines

 

however AZ was particularly egregious - going from 200 to 60 would be a stretch in itself, but more so when you technically need more than 350+.

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Response to revbones (Reply #36)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:01 AM

37. We didn't suddenly reduce caucus locations -- the system has been unfair

from the get-go.

And our Democratic leaders are FINE with this. They set it up like this. And I think this year they were perversely proud of those long lines. At my caucus they let them get longer and longer -- for no good reason. eridani, another WA DUer, told me that they should have allowed us to go in and sit down at our precinct tables. Instead, they kept us standing around outside for an hour while the line got longer and longer. It wasn't because any of us voters hadn't done our paperwork and were gumming up the system. They didn't even look at any of our ballot forms till after they finally let us swarm into the building, all at once, and sit down at our precinct tables -- an hour after they told us to arrive. Once we were sitting down they collected our ballots and tallied them up. Why couldn't have let us into the building to sit down while we waited? No reason anyone could tell me. That's just how our caucus does it. (But not eridani's.)

In our state the Republicans assign convention delegates according to the results of the primary that the state taxpayers fully fund. All the registered voters get sent ballots by mail, which they can fill out in a minute, stick in an inner privacy envelope, sign the outer envelope, and then either mail or put in a special drop box. (And later check online to make sure their ballot arrived and was counted.)

The Dems can participate in that primary, too, but the results are MEANINGLESS. They don't go to assign a single delegate.

Instead, we have caucuses. In 2008 we had record setting attendance -- 5.3%. To participate, you have to arrive at your location at a specific time and stay till your ballot gets officially counted. Different precinct leaders have different opinions about what that means, according to my FB friends who had widely varying experiences. If you arrive after they "close the door" you can't participate.

If you have children and can't get a babysitter, tough. No absentee ballot.
Live three hours away from your caucus location? Tough. You can't participate unless you want to make it an all-day ordeal.
Go to college out of state? Too bad. You can't participate either.
If you don't want to stand outside your caucus location and wait an hour till they open the door -- (or however long they decide to take) they don't want you. You're out, too.

And just to point out again -- look how much easier it is for the GOP to participate in their selection process than it is for us. If the GOP was doing this to us, we would be uniformly OUTRAGED.

What happened in WA is just as bad as what happened in AZ except that we take it for granted because it's a caucus -- and caucuses are always this bad.

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Response to brush (Reply #13)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 09:49 PM

17. No long lines in a primary using machines? In 2008 there

were long lines in the general elections. What we did at our caucus was set up another could of tables to help the flow.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #17)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:26 PM

19. That's good. But in primaries you can choose to vote anytime during the day . . .

around your schedule without being limited by the time window to get in and the hours it takes to caucus.

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Response to brush (Reply #19)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 09:28 AM

40. I have voted in both and I know about the time constraints.

IMO this can be overcome by adding another form of voting into the caucus without losing the interaction between voters and the involvement in more than just a vote. See my other post on this thread.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #17)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:52 PM

23. We have no long lines ever in WA, except at caucuses.

Because all our regular elections are conducted on paper ballots. They get mailed to all registered voters. After we fill them out we put them in double envelopes (with a signature only on the outer envelope) and then mail or turn them in. Afterwards, we can go online and make sure our ballot was received and counted.

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Response to revbones (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:29 PM

30. As someone from a caucus state, I am torn too

Caucuses are so transparent. I worry about voting machines. Nothing transparent about those.

With a caucus, you can see what is happening.

I know we've had a ton of problems this year. I've witnessed quite a bit of that, at the precinct level--and also at my County Convention.

I do believe it's a great system. However, the system is only as good as the leaders who are using the system.

This year has been a complete shit storm, not just in the caucuses, but in other states as well. So many problems, it's been ridiculous.

I will note that in 2008, we had record attendance at our Iowa caucuses when Obama won. We hardly had any problems. Things ran like butter.

But this year, we weren't even close to record attendance and it was as if a tornado of cheating, malfeasance, bad behavior, mishaps and general mayhem happened.

I blame this on Hillary Clinton. I really do. That's not hyperbole. I think she's tried to game the system is so many ways, that she has ended up creating a shitstorm everywhere she goes---for caucus goers, for entire states and for the caucus system in general.

It shouldn't be this difficult, people! Voting should not be a blasted fiasco. Caucusing shouldn't be a raging shitstorm. I think this is the Clinton camp and their willing accomplices attempting to gain the system--with many, many tactics and games.

Frankly, I'm sick of all of it. Because when you try to cheat, or game the system or gain advantages--you end up affecting--not just the vote--but the people too. The people in those states who have to carry on, and organize meetings and analyze what in the hell went wrong. It's a big mess that so many have to mop up.

Really getting sick of this nonsense. And I bet you anything, that in the next election cycle--things are not this way. They've NEVER been this bad, across the board. NEVER. I feel as if our election system--both caucuses and regular voting--has been turned into a joke.

I don't want to see our caucuses end, because of all of this. It is a good system. I do believe that improvements can be made to make the caucuses more accessible and better attended. That's another conversation.

Meanwhile, we'll all continue to mop up the messes that have been created this election cycle because the Clinton camp decided they didn't want to play fair--state after state after state.

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Response to CoffeeCat (Reply #30)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 01:06 AM

35. It is completely unfair for you to blame Hillary Clinton for the problems

that are BUILT INTO the caucus system. It's designed to limit voter participation and it succeeds.

It isn't Hillary's fault that a minority of states including WA have clung to an outmoded, non-inclusive, non-representative caucus system that hardly anyone participates in (it's record turnout when we get 5%).

It isn't her fault that in my state some rural Dem voters have to drive for 3 hours to vote in a caucus while Rethugs can drop their ballots in the mail -- that's the choice of the Dem leaders in this state who went to court in the 80's to overrule the voter referendum setting up primaries. So the GOP uses state funded primaries now and we're stuck with the caucuses that only 5-6% of voters participate in.

I'm really sick of Dems looking for every excuse they can to blame Hillary for anything bad that happens anywhere.

Including WA state Dems' decision 30 years ago to overturn the referendum the voters passed to use primaries for assigning delegates.

What a crock.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 06:52 PM

7. I listened to a discussion

On NPR, recently and it was the pros and cons of voting on line. The concern of course was tampering by hacking or rigging.
Oversight would be necessary no matter what.
I'll bet this will be the wave of the future, though.
Our Idaho Caucus was a mile long.
This was my first one. I think it's a recent phenomenon here. My friend was MAD. I'm 60 and she is 70. The line was full of older people, (people who looked oler than us) (Goddess forbid)....along with all the wonderful young people.
It was chaotic yet organized.
Man, I was glad to see all those Democrats!
Idaho is a contender for the most Republican state.
I spend all my time here because I thought I was a unicorn. Turns out I'm not.
That's the good part.
The rest sucked. I should interview my friend. She articulated the inconvenience better than I could because it pissed her off so much. I kinda rolled with it.


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Response to libodem (Reply #7)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 07:08 PM

9. We can do banking online.

 

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #9)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 07:17 PM

11. Good point. And we rely on the US mail to be secure, too.

In our state we use mail in but afterwards we can go online and make sure our ballot was received and counted.

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #9)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 07:18 PM

12. Yep

And it seems very secure. Caucus protocol is outdated, not fair, and inconvenient. I need a better term for 'not fair', like unequal opportunity, or non egalitarian, because not everyone got their chance.

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Response to libodem (Reply #12)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:56 PM

31. A caucus is like a sewing circle.

 

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Response to libodem (Reply #7)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:55 PM

25. Elections with Diebold machines have "oversight" as well. nt

 

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 07:07 PM

8. Funniest thing that happened at our caucus was when someone got up and screamed,...

 

"This is bullshit!!! Where are the voting machines???" and stormed out.

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #8)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 07:10 PM

10. It IS bullshit! Why is it funny that that person recognized it was voter suppression?

He didn't want to sit around and discuss his candidate, he just wanted to vote. And he didn't want to spend hours doing it.

This is why most states switched to primaries long ago -- to facilitate voter participation, not to suppress it, as caucuses do.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #10)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:29 PM

29. Caucuses used to only be attended by a handful of people....

 

It's only been recently that there's widespread interest in the selection process.

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #29)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:58 PM

32. And that's the way party leaders want it because it increases their influence.

The fewer people participate, the more influence anyone who attends has.

And that's how they like it.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #32)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:13 AM

38. Putting our trust in their wisdom is sooo "last century".

 

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #38)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:16 AM

39. It's the old smoke-filled room minus the smoke.

But still with plenty of hot air.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 09:39 PM

16. I'm not totally in love with the caucus system either but when

we had a chance to opt out for a primary I voted for the caucus. We had over 400 persons at out small caucus and it was held in the evening so most workers could be present.

But that is not why I voted for it. We had spent the whole evening discussion and voting on how our area would be governed. We started with out selection of the candidate and the count - which was held right in front of us with people selected by us to monitor the counting. No cheating here.

While they were counting we proceeded to select officials who would both run the caucus and do the next years work toward the next one.

We also suggested planks that we want added to the platform and adopted them after discussion. There were at least 20 well thought out planks including one from me to allow a mail in vote from those who could not attend. (Which was directed at what angers the man in the OP).

But the first reason I voted for a caucus is because of the above. We all got to have a say and got to know each other. We became a real party. We exchanged names and info on who we were and why we were for out candidate. We became a working unit to deal with electing our candidates from our area. None of this happens in a primary - it is all decided by the establishment.

Finally we elected our own delegates. People we now knew When you vote at a primary that also never happens.

Many of us stayed late into the evening after the caucus was adjourned and talked about what we wanted to do and what kind of help we could be. When does this happen in a primary.

I am glad that we have a caucus and I hope that my party will work to improve participation by allowing a vote by mail ballot for those who cannot come.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #16)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:00 PM

18. The large majority of WA voters chose to have a PRIMARY, not a caucus,

but the state Democratic party went to court to have their vote overruled.

Your cozy little system sounds so nice. But it doesn't work for people who don't have the time, who live too far away from a caucus location (i.e., many people in rural parts of the state), who are out of state college students, who want a secret ballot so their spouse or boss doesn't know who they're voting for, or for many other reasons.

And the fact that only 5.3% of eligible Democrats voted in 2008 -- and that that was record breaking turnout -- shows how effectively the caucus system suppresses the vote.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #16)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:27 PM

20. I'm a working mom. Caususes exclude me.

To go and spend hours there, I would have to get a sitter, and that costs money. Poll taxes are supposed to be unconstitutional. Thank goodness California let's me just mail in a ballot.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #20)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 10:48 PM

21. Right. Having children who need care isn't a valid reason for a "surrogate affidavit"

which is the WA caucus version of an absentee ballot.

Neither is being an out of state college student.

Neither is living 3 hours away from your county caucus location. (This is a big, largely rural state.)

Neither is being shy or not wanting your spouse or boss to know who you're voting for.

We have mail-in ballots for everything else here, too. Just not for the caucus.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:04 PM

28. Yes, they are voter suppression.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 12:52 AM

34. The caucus system is the apartheid of elections.

Only a select few have the time and resources to partake.

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