Why Caucuses Suck
by Todd Beeton, Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 10:46:46 AM EST
Some huge turnout in Wyoming today. This is how Fox News reported the situation at the Cheyenne Civic Center:
Overwhelming, out of control and lines around the block. Those are all words that have been used to describe turnout.
At the Cheyenne Civic Center, they were planning for 500, they got 2000.
So, good right? Well, not for everyone. They later had a Wyoming state rep on who reported that in Casper "they had to turn people away. The line was queued up around the building when they shut the doors."
Turning people away? Really?
The AP has more:
In Sweetwater County, more than 500 people crowded into a high school auditorium and another 500 were lined up to get inside.
"I'm worried about where we're going to put them all. But I guess everybody's got the same problem," said Joyce Corcoran, a local party official. "So far we're OK. But man, they keep coming."
Party officials were struggling with how to handle the overflow crowds. The start of the Converse County caucus was delayed due to long lines.
In Cheyenne, scores of late arrivers were turned away when party officials stopped allowing people to get in line at 11 a.m. EST. A party worker stood at the end of the line with a sign reading, "End of the line. Caucus rules require the voter registration process to be closed at this time."
Vera Double, 71, said she arrived late because she had a hard time finding parking.
"I'm so proud to see there are this many Democrats showing up in Cheyenne, but I'm very disappointed in the rules because we had difficulty parking and we had a long walk and they closed it off at 9 (a.m. MST)," she said. "I consider it -- we're disenfranchised, which they've done in other parts of the country."
Look, caucuses make sense for states that are not used to mattering in the process and where turnout is usually paltry; caucuses are far cheaper than a primary after all. But that alone should give us all pause. The fact that finances drive the decision to engage in a process that is, on several counts, an exercise in dis-enfranchisement, is really disturbing. Maximizing participation should be paramount, not saving money.
Update [2008-3-8 16:18:15 by Jerome Armstrong]: I was reading through a thread over on TalkLeft and came across this: 'The total vote to total delegates is listed as 8553 Obama to 9289 Clinton.' In essence, for every delegate earned, it's taken Clinton 736 votes more for each delegate she's gotten compared with Obama. I'd like to get that number checked out. It's quite a bit of a handicap that Obama's being handed through his process-powered campaign. In the end, I believe that the "Math Club" is gonna be trumped by the popular vote total in terms of importance for the nomination.