Home Page

Powered By

Layout Design:
Blogs Gone Wild!

Powered by Blogger

From country to city, From farm to fireworks…Through marriage & children, Through employment & ownership, Life continues to be an amazing journey…

Saturday, January 19

Nevada Caucus Explained

Well, I did it. I’m still not sure if I went to a “caucus”, or if I went to my precinct’s designated polling place “to caucus”. I did learn the definition of the word though. Caucus, is a fancy word for cluster*!+%. And, I suppose depending on one’s imagination, the word cluster*!+% could also be considered a noun or a verb, just as the word “caucus” is considered both :) Now, I can only speak for my particular precinct, and those I witnessed around me. I was both surprised and pleased though at the massive turnout. I really thought more would not show up, and who knows what the real election would look like if everyone had to turn up all at the same time, that’s not happened here in over 20 years.

I said in my rant of last evening prior to this “voting” day that I would attend this process and that I would report back as fairly and objectively as I could, based on what I viewed from both sides, and how this new experience affected me. If you wish to not read the rest of the story, let me say this to you. DO NOT EVER VOTE FOR CHANGING YOUR STATE’S PROCESS FROM PRIMARY TO CAUCUS.

The procedure per say was fairly painless except for the CHAOS. There were more folks at McQueen High School today than I’ve ever seen parked in that lot at a play-off football game when my son played there. Traffic was at a stand still, and lines were long. I’m a patient sort, so I can live through that sort of thing. I was concerned more about what would happen when I actually got inside. By the way, the rumors of locking the doors after 9:05 were false. It would have been impossible. Ya can’t lock the doors when hundreds of folks are still walking through them. So for folks like me that have a real hard time being anywhere at 9:00am, it was OK to be fashionably late. However, I was back in my car and almost home at 10:45.

There was more professionalism and organization in the elections we had for student council in high school. I’m not sure if my “precinct’s leader” was pre-designated or ended up like some others that I heard of. Some said that the first few in a precinct that arrived, were chosen as leaders and took it from there. By the time I got to my special place, the leader had begun and was struggling along like the rest of us. I kid you not, while this photo is not of my leader, it was another precinct meeting in the same place. I saw a LOT of “leaders” and “co-leaders” reading the rules as they went along. So was it in my precinct. Our precinct though got some of it backwards, but to no harm I suppose of the outcome of the whole process.

My group fell into the high school cafeteria space. I don’t know the exact number, but I would say probably nine or so precincts were assigned to the cafeteria. Some poor soul from each precinct was holding up a white piece of paper with the precinct number on it…for a LONG TIME. These poor people had aches and pains and burns in their bodies from holding the signs up so long, people had to take turns. If you did not bring your “invitation card” with you, and did not know your precinct number, you were pretty well screwed. There were so many people in this cafeteria that you could not stand without physically touching someone on all four sides of your body. It was about 35* here this morning, so everyone also had on coats and scarves. It got hot really quickly, and folks prone to irritability with a lack of patience were very irritated and impatient. If you had to find your precinct, it was a mission of trial and error to walk through the crowd to find each leader of each precinct and see if your name was on the list. Many not healthy enough to stand in a heavy crowd, or too disgusted to deal with it just left. But as more left, more came in. It was an astronomical impossibility to keep track of the people.

The caucus leader had a packet. His packet was a 12”x14” envelope in which held the rules to caucus, “ballots”, and delegate & “chairman” forms. He also had a white 8”x10” envelope, in which to hold the completed ballots. However, they were not called ballots, they were called Nevada GOP Presidential Preference Poll Ballots. How do I have this photo? Well, they were left laying around on the tables at the end, so I took one, knowing that at least one of them would not be used for ill intent. Who knows about the others. The leaders’ white envelopes were not even the kind that licked and sticked, he merely was given a large paper clip to place over the flap when we were done.

Our particular precinct ended up unfortunately at the back of the cafeteria by the door. We got caught by all the traffic rushing by to try and get to their place. I think we were all so baffled by the process, we just tried to do it right. There wasn’t much “talk” or “caucusing” going on with us. All of us came there knowing who we were going to vote for, so there weren’t many “speeches”. I did see other precincts though really getting into that process, where when asked, several wanted to speak about why they believed in their candidate of choice. I doubt anybody came there so undecided that some “Joe Blow’s” speech changed their minds one way or another. However, I listened to some of them, and it was intriguing, and a good experience. It’s amazing how some average folks can be really well spoken when put on the spot.

Basically though, all anybody wanted to do was fill out the ballot and go. No one knew what to do after they spent their one second to check the box next to their candidate. We had one really knowledgeable lady in our precinct named Victoria (she rightfully got nominated for the TWO year position of “chairperson” of our precinct) that took the bull by the horns. She went among other precincts and finally found someone “in the know”, and an announcement was made to all precincts that if you did not want to be involved in the delegate election and chair election following, you WERE ALLOWED to just fill out your “Presidential Preference Poll” and go. Boy, did the place clear out FAST! You should have seen the mass movement of humans like scurrying cockroaches slithering toward the one door. It was a blessing though, at last some breathable air and room to actually move or sit for some.

I wasn’t about to leave. As I saw all the people leaving, I saw the various little white envelopes of the “leaders” lying about while they were reading the rules to see what to do next. I saw some folks just so happy to get out of the crowd, they just stuck their ballots in whatever white envelope they passed first. So, some precincts got a couple of extra ballots in them, and since we didn’t sign them, they were only numbered…no one will ever be the wiser. Who knows what happens to little white envelopes when several hundred people leave in a two minute mass exodus? But my leader did a great job. He was well spoken, and kind, and distinguished looking. He had a tam hat on, a suit…the cashmere jacket look, and a black mustache and beard. He looked just like a college professor, and made us all feel “safe”. I stayed, I wanted to see what this caucus stuff was all about…after all…I got up EARLY on Saturday morning, so I was going to stick it out.

Our fearless leader referred back to his neon green or yellow rule sheet that was double side printed. He read verbatim from it and we all listened. There were maybe 20 or so of us left, maybe more. The rule sheet said that our precinct must elect delegates. Delegates? What delegates? What does a delegate have to do? No one knew. The only thing we knew for sure is that the chosen delegates must attend the Washoe County Republican Convention on Saturday, March 15th, 2008. The opinion is, that when the ballots are counted from our precinct, that the eight delegates our precinct is allowed (that’s a lot, some get one or two) will go to the convention to represent the people on the candidate chosen. I raised my hand. Only eight of us raised our hand. So, the leader read from the rules that one is allowed to nominate and vote for themselves, so if we are allowed eight, and eight jumped in, then if we all vote for ourselves, we’re done! So I nominated and voted for myself and won a delegate position at the county convention on March 15th.

I asked if I would vote on behalf of the precinct on who actually won, or would, say the top three get a delegate or two, or do the delegates go to the next convention and vote for the candidate of their personal choice? No one knew. I filled out my official delegate form, with my phone number, address, and e-mail address. I Googled it, Google doesn’t know either. However, I do know that I believe in our democratic system, and even when it’s less than perfect, somebody needs to represent the people honestly. That’s why I raised my hand. I will be notified by an official person as to what my delegate duties are. Whatever the Republican Party of Nevada sets forth as rules, I will follow them 100%. I was hanging around looking at the leader’s white envelope mostly to see if we get to break out the ballots and see who won. Usually when you vote, you just leave. A machine counts them. But in the old days, people actually sat together and counted paper ballots…I was hoping to get to do that once, since we were all told that “caucusing” was much more personal, like an old town hall meeting. I’m good at that sort of thing, I’ve been involved in lots of paper vote elections on small scale. I was told that we DON’T count them. They would be delivered to the appropriate place, and I saw the paper, that’s what it said.

The idea is that when the county convention comes, then a few less delegates are elected to travel to the State convention. Then, a few less are elected to represent Nevada at the National Convention. I’m sure my caucus experience will end at the County convention, however it would be so interesting to keep on and see how the end result works. At age 45, I’d like to see it through, but I’m sure at next levels, people more in the know and much more into the process will prevail. Hopefully in the mean time I will gain more knowledge and will be contacted by all involved. I will do the best I can to represent my precinct and neighborhood. I believe that the guy that was my leader is a good guy. But, how do we really know that what “somebody” tells us is the real deal? We did not sit together and determine the real winner for our own precinct. We did not “touch” the little white envelope. I have to rely on the fact that some really “seemingly” nice guy, and gal that helped him are honest and above board. They seemed to be, but how do you know when you meet a stranger in a suit? He could have thrown the white envelope out the window of his car and went to IHOP for breakfast, we’d never know. There are big gaps in the Nevada GOP caucus process.

I did not vote for the man that won today. However, he was my second choice. But what is most important to me is the knowledge that I have gained so far. There are no laws that I have been given notice of governing a caucus. I’ve heard that delegates are not legally bound to vote for the person they originally represented in the caucus. The doors are wide open for “Tom-Foolery”. However, it is what it is, and what’s done is done. Even if my precinct voted for a man that I despised, as a delegate if required to, I would represent the people. That is the true meaning of a democracy. People vote. You have to be OK with losing the same way you have to be OK with winning. Good luck to the GOP. Some may not like the story that follows, but I just had an in depth conversation with one of my Democratic employees, and BOY…DID HE HAVE A DIFFERENT STORY OF HIS CAUCUS EXPERIENCE. If my caucus would have gone like his, I might have an entirely different opinion of the whole caucus process.

I'm not the only one that found the caucus difficult. See these links...

Reno Gazette Journal

KOLO TV Channel 8

REPUBLICANS…PLEASE GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO WRITE ANOTHER STORY GIVING THE LIBS CREDIT! I am what I am, but I will not be silent when the opposition deserves credit. Read on my friends. Perhaps the Democrats in Nevada didn’t derive cluster*!+% from their day at caucus. Thanks to the Reno Gazette Journal for the photos I got from their site.