The platform committee of the Democratic Party refused to allow a vote on a amendment to eliminate caucuses from future presidential primaries at its meeting in Pittsburgh. This is extremely disappointing since I believe the caucus system is pretty much garbage.
When I attended my local caucus in February, the problems were very apparent. First, the caucus is at a specific time for about an hour. It’s not like regular voting where you have all day to vote. You have a short window of time and if you can’t make it, well too bad. You won’t be able to participate. This discriminates against working class people who have to work on the weekends and cannot get childcare. It also disenfranchises the disabled, the elderly, the people in the military, and others who have difficulty making it to the caucus. It restricts who can participate.
They try to stuff hundreds of people in a tiny gymasium. There was so much confusion and lack of organization. They had a sign up sheet to express your vote. However, nobody was in charge of securing the sheet. It would have been easy for me to fill in five other made up people to vote for my favored candidate. The precinct captain who was conducting our caucus and in charge of enforcing the rules was wearing an Obama pin, sticker, which made me uncomfortable. Could he really be impartial?
One of the biggest problems of the caucus system is that it is not a secret ballot. You have to vote in front of everyone. This can definitely lead to intimidation. When you are outnumbered 5 or 6 to 1 and being shouted down, it is extremely uncomfortable. Also, the caucus system is not one person, one vote. It’s based on some idiotic mathematical formula to calcuate delegates. Your candidate must have an arbitrary minimum of 15% of the vote to even receive one delegate. So at our caucus, we had some Kucinich supporters. However, they didn’t reach the 15% minimum. Thus their votes are deemed worthless. Then they are forced to vote for another candidate, one that isn’t their first choice.
When it came time to tally the votes, an Obama delegate was chosen to count the votes in a back room away from our caucus. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t at least another Clinton delegate for the sake of community. The counter could totally change and make up the votes. There was no accountability with that. Then using that stupid mathematical formula, it was determined that the last delegate needed to be determined by flipping a coin. FLIPPING A FRIGGIN’ COIN! Is this a banana republic?
This is the system that we choose to be the presidential nominee of our party? Barack Obama built his delegate lead over Hillary Clinton mostly from these undemocratic caucuses. We need a truly democratic system that allows for a secret ballot, that counts one person, one vote and that allows the most people to participate. As a Democrat, I hope our inept DNC chairman, Howard Dean will lead the charge to eliminate the caucus system and restore democracy in our nominating process for the most powerful office in the world.