In advance, I volunteered to be caucus precinct secretary and a guy volunteered to be the caucus chair*. I attended caucus leader training to learn more about the process. I showed up at Boulder HS at 5:30 as instructed, collected my precinct materials, registered for my white voter/caucus slip, found my classroom and set it up.
At 6:30, there was still no sign of the other guy. I called his cell phone. It went to voicemail. He left voicemail a few minutes later saying he was on his way. !?!
After we were dismissed from the auditorium (around 7:15), I helped people find their way to their precinct classrooms and found about 2 dozen people seated in our classroom (Calculus BC, plastered with math joke posters, yay) when I returned.
I followed the script, which told leaders to go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves and approximately where they lived. I was worried that would take too long by the time every (35) seat had filled up, but people kept streaming in. We gave up introducing ourselves when we had nearly 50 people in the room.
It was 7:40 and there was still no sign of the guy who volunteered to be our precinct caucus chair. I told the room that my only qualification to lead a caucus was that I had taken the class. They proclaimed me the caucus chair. One young man volunteered to help as the caucus secretary and off we went.
I passed around a clipboard and asked people to sign up to speak on behalf of their candidates. Several spoke on behalf of Sanders and one spoke on behalf of Clinton. Then it was time for voting, which has two steps, for the presidential race.
First, we needed to take a non-binding threshold vote to determine which choices would be available for the binding second vote: uncommitted, Clinton or Sanders. To be included in the binding vote, a choice had to reach a 15% threshold.
We counted off heads and got to 102. One voted for uncommitted, 15 voted for Clinton. That would have rounded up to 15%, but more people kept streaming in.
People at the door offered to count the number of people who were streaming in and their preferences so we could add them to the count. We topped out at 125 in the end with 16 for Clinton. Late-comers, who had braved the lines for hours, went overwhelmingly for Sanders while the earlier crowd was less so.
Both uncommitted and Clinton missed the 15% threshold. Only Sanders was on the binding preference vote and we gave him our 3 delegates by proclamation. I heard that happened at several precincts at our central Boulder super-site.
I announced we were going on to the down-ballot races and let people leave. About half did.
Our precinct is in HD 10, which has a contested race between two highly qualified Dem candidates. My goal was to allocate the 3 presidential delegates for our precinct fairly and accurately according to precinct sentiment, and then to get both HD 10 candidates qualified for the primary ballot.
Several people spoke on behalf of one candidate for HD 10. None spoke for the other one. To qualify for the ballot, each candidate needs to get 15% or more of the votes at the caucus. At first, only one met the 15% threshold, with many abstainers.
But then some people switched their votes to help get both on the ballot. Then we can make our final decision on the Dem HD 10 candidate, after we have time to get to know both candidates and their positions/differences better.
Our precinct did not spend any time on the party platform. I had a paper copy and a form for us to suggest changes.
I heard that another precinct voted 137-0 to change back to a presidential primary. (137 is one over the fine-structure constant, which is a good omen for Boulder, n'est pas?)
Both the youth and senior vote went for Sanders at our precinct caucus. I knew most of the seniors who attended because they came from my condo complex. However, the Clinton supporters from my condo, for the most part, did not come to the caucus. I would have driven them had I not needed to arrive two hours before the caucus.
From the Denver Post:
A total of 121,596 Democrats registered at caucuses across Colorado, an increase of 1 percent over the 2008 attendance, according to the Colorado Democratic Party. But some precincts were inundated with as many as three times more people than expected.I attended my first caucus. I led my first caucus. I am not sure the people who were able to either arrive hours early or stood for hours in line, are representative of the electorate. I recall (though my recall might not be perfect) only 4 non-white caucus-goers in my precinct. This is Boulder, but I was surprised by the whiteness and the youth of the crowd.
A crowd stretching four blocks from a Boulder Democratic caucus site became disillusioned Tuesday night as hundreds of people were turned away because of overcrowding.
I'm with the 137 who would like to go back to a presidential primary so that more people's voices can be heard. However, with the funding (and hence spending) limitations of TABOR, the state switched to the caucus system to save money.
The state pays for elections. Volunteers run the caucuses. This cost-transfer (5 hours of my time Tuesday night plus 2 hours for training) gives us a semblance of democracy. But, I worry that the caucus system gives the sentiment of a very narrow slice (~10%) of the electorate.
* The guy who volunteered in advance to lead our caucus came in the door at 8:30 (3 hours late!), just in time to cast his vote for Sanders.