Washington State caucus disasters

One of the Washington State Democratic Legislative District caucuses ran to 12:45 AM. It started at 12 noon.   Several other caucuses took six to eight hours.

On facebook the vast majority of people commenting want to do away with the caucus system and use a primary. For many people, the caucus experience was a nightmare. At mine, the police were ticketing and towing vehicles at one point.

Caucuses are an excellent way to discourage people from participating in the Democratic Party

Someone pointed out, though, that caucuses enable outside (nonorthodox) candidates like Sanders to win — at least in states with open caucses, like Washington. Open caucuses mean that anyone can declare themselves a Democrat and vote in the caucus.  This year it’s clear that thousands of Independents — many young people, in particular — caucused for Bernie Sanders.   In states which have closed caucuses or, like New York, which have a closed primary, it’s harder for outside candidates to win.

Also, with primaries, the less informed, more easily misled general public gets to vote, so it’s harder for a committed minority to take over.

On facebook Raechel Morera‎ wrote:

Did anyone else encounter issues with the state Democratic Party rule change about alternates moving to other precincts where delegates didn’t show up, as long as they pledged as an alternate for the same candidate?

We had 4 HRC supporters who pledged as Bernie alternates at their last caucus, move to other precincts still claiming to be Sanders alternates, then becoming Sanders delegates, and then change their final votes to Hillary. We all caught on because, we were running so behind, we decided to ask anyone changing their final vote to stand, instead of having to tally all the votes again, assuming no one was going to flip candidates at this point. These 4 people stood up and changed their votes, all from Bernie, to Hillary (which, come on, doesn’t happen). They had put on Hillary stickers and everything.

It was obvious this was something that was planned to try to throw the delegate count. Being there was only 4 of them, it didn’t make a difference, but it seemed obvious this change from the state party was in HRC’s favor and these people knew what they were doing.

Thought I should share. I was in the 44th District.

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One thought on “Washington State caucus disasters”

  1. Chaos at the Caucuses
    Every four years Washington State Democrats go through Caucus Chaos. Washington State Democrats, it is time to use exclusively a Closed Primary Election to select our candidate for President. The caucus system is chaotic. Using primarily untrained volunteers in this caucus process is a recipe for disaster. The majority of people that attend have little knowledge of what to expect. This is in itself a recipe for suspicion of foul play when there is chaos.
    This year, like every four years, the same chaos plays out. For example, in Pierce County this year on April 17th at the LD Caucus, there was chaos. Volunteers and delegates were there until 2am in the morning after arriving well before 1pm that afternoon. What can you expect from volunteers trying to work through this complicated process with little or no training? The caucus process is very frustrating to those who participate and it is demoralizing to those volunteers who try to do their best.
    Fast forward to the Grays Harbor County Convention/LD Caucus, May 1st. Yes another disaster similar to 2008. We the delegates and alternates started arriving by 11:30am to check in. It wasn’t long before it was discovered that many of the delegates and alternates were not on the list provided by the State Party. Why? Because mostly untrained volunteers did a large part of the data entry at the state level. This mess took around an hour and a half to correct. It took another three hours for the Credentials Committee to create a list of delegates eligible to vote, and also to create a list of delegates choosing to run to the next level. Unfortunately, this was only the preliminary report. They still had to do the final report. The final report contained a list of those delegates, out of the two hundred plus delegates, wanting to be chosen for one of the 13 delegate and 6 alternate positions. The list also contained those delegates that were seated as delegates only, to vote for delegates choosing to move on to the 6th CD caucus. There is more. There are two districts in our county, the 24th LD which was allotted 7 out of the 13, and the 19th LD which was allotted 6 out of the 13. (This allotment is done at the State and DNC level). The two districts were also allotted 3 alternates each. There are two candidates and the allotted delegates and alternates must be split between them for each LD. Each candidate, according to a percentage calculation, is awarded their share of the delegates and alternates for each LD. There were four sub caucuses, 19th Bernie & Hillary and 24th Bernie & Hillary. Each sub caucus had to appoint a chair, secretary and a tally committee. I think you are getting the picture of why this is so chaotic. The 13 delegates and 6 alternates were eventually elected from the four LD sub-caucuses and will move-on to the 6th CD on May 21st. There the chaos will likely continue as the process continues with primarily untrained volunteers. The majority of delegates and alternates that endured the LD caucus process for hours at Elma High School that day, left before the County Convention was convened. Therefore, the County Convention where the Platform and Resolutions would be discussed and passed by the body had to be canceled at 7:30pm due to lack of a Quorum.
    The caucus process is not the party building experience as touted. It is primarily chaos for all those involved. People I spoke with went away disillusioned and disgusted. In my opinion the simple Closed Primary system presently used in many states, is a much better choice. Washington State already has a primary. The voter pamphlets have already been sent out and we will be getting our ballots and we will vote soon. But at this time the primary is not used for the selection of a Democratic Party Presidential candidate, the Republicans use it. If we changed to a Closed Primary we Democrats would mark our ballot for our Presidential candidate choice, put it in the mail, and enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon in peace not in chaos! Democrats, we must stop this Caucus Chaos!
    Patrick Wadsworth
    Former Chair Grays Harbor Democrats 2010 to 2012

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