Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cold, Chaotic, Congested Caucusing

Tonight Chad and I went to participate in our first ever presidential caucus. When I blogged about the upcoming caucuses a few days ago, I was under the impression that it was the first ever caucus in Kansas, when in fact, it was really just the first ever Super Tuesday caucus in our state. In years past, the parties apparently held caucuses or primary elections, but they were always scheduled so late in the campaign season that the presidential candidates were already nominated. Some years, the primaries were just canceled in order to save the party money. One article said that in 2004, about 1300 people in the state of Kansas actually got together and caucused after John Kerry had already received the nomination. What exactly would be the point of that?

Anyway, tonight we headed over to our caucus location, which was the National Guard Armory building, at about 6:30. The caucus was supposed to begin at 7:00, and anyone not in line by that time would be turned away. When we got close to the location, we could see droves of people walking through the freezing wind and rain towards the building. We parked in the Holiday Inn parking lot across the street and started walking, and when the line actually came into view I literally busted out laughing. There were seriously hundreds of people standing in line outside in the rain. The temperature was in the mid-thirties and the wind-chill was below freezing. People were sloshing around in the mud and the muck in a line that went half way down the block. I was amazed that so many people came out to support their candidate in such amazingly crappy weather!

While we waited, party officials and volunteers came out to tell us that the building was just much too small and the turnout was much too big, so they were having trouble fitting everyone inside and getting everyone signed in. We waited almost 45 minutes outside in the cold, and our hands and feet were frozen by the time we made it into the crowded building. At first, it looked like mass chaos (and I of course took a picture of the chaos with my cell phone). The man in charge was trying to shout instructions over the crowd--they hadn't even rented a microphone or anything. Soon after we got our party affiliation changed (I generally prefer to be a registered independent--I don't ever vote straight down party lines) we were able to talk to a volunteer and figure out where to go. After just a few minutes of waiting for the first group to be counted, we formed orderly little lines and the officials counted our group, and then we were free to leave. Despite the fact that the KDP had grossly underestimated the number of people who would participate (I guess there was no way for them to know since they hadn't done this on Super Tuesday before), it all went relatively smoothly once we made it through the line and crowds. The Lawrence Journal-World has already posted pictures of the event!

While I hadn't been that uncomfortably cold in quite some time, I'm still glad we went and participated. Now I know what caucusing it all about! And thankfully, the temperature didn't drop to below freezing until we were on our way home and it started snowing--again!

1 comment:

James said...

Way to caucus, Luces! We would have been out there with you in the cold if we were still in Lawrence. Registering with Democrats Abroad allowed us the ease of voting online, so that made it super simple.