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Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:28 PM

 

Democrats’ caucuses aren’t very democratic

Maybe the state Democratic Party should change its name. Because it isn’t at all democratic how they’re choosing a presidential nominee.

The caucuses held here last weekend were described in media reports as “packed” and “bursting at the seams.” Lines around the block were reported, as well as crowds in overflow rooms. It gave the feeling of massive civic engagement.

But in reality, only 5.8 percent of the state’s registered voters showed up. That means 94 percent of voters didn’t. Even the most moribund municipal election for, say, water commissioner, gets turnout rates five times that amount.

This also means that Bernie Sanders’ landslide win was earned with the backing of just 4 percent of our 4 million registered voters.

Can you call something a peoples’ revolution with that few people?

The problem isn’t with the candidates or their caucusing supporters. It also isn’t just public apathy.

It’s the hidebound political party that simply refuses to let the people fully into its nominating process.

We could have voted in a primary election this year, using mail-in ballots, but the state Democratic Party flatly rejected that. They stuck with a caucus system that, quaint as it may be, dramatically suppresses the vote.

The party likes it because people have to give their email addresses and phone numbers. This contributes to “party-building,” meaning the recruitment of volunteers and the creation of fundraising lists. What it does not contribute to is equity, access or the enfranchisement of the people, especially for marginalized populations — all things the Democratic Party says it cares deeply about.http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/democrats-caucuses-arent-very-democratic/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article_title_1.1

I wrote to my State Senator about this and they are considering changing back to primary for presidential elections. Working on a petition.

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Democrats’ caucuses aren’t very democratic (Original post)
otohara Mar 2016 OP
LisaM Mar 2016 #1
msongs Mar 2016 #3
LisaM Mar 2016 #4
CrowCityDem Mar 2016 #2
LisaM Mar 2016 #5
otohara Mar 2016 #6
LisaM Mar 2016 #7
SharonClark Mar 2016 #8
Gothmog Mar 2016 #9

Response to otohara (Original post)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:37 PM

1. Moreover, they held it on Easter weekend this year

And the next round is being held on Orthodox Easter weekend.

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Response to LisaM (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:43 PM

3. the saturday before the christians-only holiday is not an actual holiday of any sort nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:52 PM

4. No, but many people travel to see family over the Easter weekend

And many people also host family gatherings. It's also between two busy days on the Christian calendar. I'm going to be generous and guess that since Easter was really early this year it was an oversight. And, I know of at least one caucus site that was holding an Easter Egg hunt the very same time as the caucus. There are lots of Easter-related activities the day before.

On Lopez Island, for example, the Catholic mass is held at 10:30 on Saturdays (one priest for all the San Juans) and they did not change it to accommodate the caucuses.

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Response to otohara (Original post)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:39 PM

2. Ugh

 

The single worst aspect of caucusing is what was being discussed in Iowa, where voters of candidates who didn't meet a 'threshold' essentially got to vote twice because their candidate wasn't popular enough. There is no argument to be made that such a system is anything approaching fair.

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Response to CrowCityDem (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 02:57 PM

5. I remember in 1992, our votes for Harkin were eventually tossed

I had forgotten how upset I was about that! A candidate I really liked, and I couldn't register any kind of vote for him!

The math is also wonky. They round up to whole numbers (not saying there is an illegality, it's just strange). So in one caucus where it was 3.1 for Bernie and 1.9 for Hillary, instead of going to the closest number, it ended up being 4-1 for Bernie (this is anecdotal from a friend, but it tracks with what I've encountered before). In fact, in 2004 we wanted to vote for Kerry but ended up voting for Kucinich just so he would have enough votes to round up to qualifying for a delegate.

It's not just that the participation is low and timing can favor a certain demographic, the system systematically eliminates candidates with fewer votes.

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Response to LisaM (Reply #5)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 03:16 PM

6. Wonky Math Indeed

 

In my caucus room Hillary won but the math gave Sanders an extra delegate due to the round-up method.

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Response to otohara (Reply #6)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 04:29 PM

7. Maddening, isn't it?

In the example I gave, that would change the percentage from 75-25 to close to 62-38 - a significant difference.

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Response to CrowCityDem (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 06:44 PM

8. They don't vote twice

They realign by joining a viable candidate group or they pull people from other candidate groups to become a viable group of their own.

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Response to otohara (Original post)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 11:05 PM

9. I am now glad that the DNC killed the Texas two step

The Texas party wanted to maintain the Texas two step where two thirds of the delegates were allocated based on the primary and the rest on the basis of a caucus. The DNC killed this process and now I am glad of that decision

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