Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Precinct committees, AKA caucuses

About the Texas Presidential Primary and Precinct Committee meetings, 3/4/08

Texas does their Republican and Democratic Presidential Primaries different, but Texas does just about everything different. This was the first year, in 30, that I ever paid attention to this, and I think that many other Texans have not paid attention to this, either. Apparently, about 65% of the convention delegates are elected by vote, and the other 35% or so are elected by precinct committees...These precinct committees are held directly after the end of voting, at the polling place.

Typically, according to sources, these precinct committees are barely attended...Not so this year: voting was heavy. From personal reports of friends at various precincts, voting cut off was handled in various manners. But, if someone was inside the polling place door, by 7 PM, they had to be allowed to vote: consequently some polling places had voters at voting machines well after 7 PM, the lines were so long.

Precinct committees could not start until polling was done: voting had to be verified, and if the rolls were incomplete, voting could not be verified...Early voters as well as primary day voters could attend, as long as voting was verified on the rolls...

My experience was we went to a small computer lab in the local elementary school where voting is conducted... There were so many in attendance, milling and churning occurred. We were welcomely moved into the cafeteria where there were seats for all..We were fortunate: the 7:15 PM start was delayed maybe 30 minutes for the last of the voters... It was delayed much longer in many precincts across the state...

We were also blessed: unbeknownst to me, the precinct in which I live is the home precinct of the current Lubbock County Democratic Chairperson, and the future one. We had knowledgeable folks conducting the committee meeting. As I learned from reports of friends and the news media, that was not so in many precincts...

We signed in, the count was made, and of the 84 present, 50 were Senator Hillary Clinton supporters, 34 were Senator Barrack Obama supporters: the delegate allotment was 11 and 7 respectively. We elected a chair and secretary, divided into groups, and "elected" delegates: volunteers were called for first. I did not volunteer at first, thinking everyone there would want to be a volunteer, and I would defer. Wrong. We did get eleven (female) volunteers, and the Obama caucus got their 7, were an equal number of alternates for each...

Resolutions were entertained: from the well thought out to the unrealistic and unreasonable..

And, then we were done.... Except, everyone was invited to volunteer to help with the Lubbcok County Convention. (I have actually attended one, previously.) I signed up... And, will be a delegate.

Over and over again during the committee meeting, I was struck by several things, and comparing notes with my friends, they agreed: Senator Barrack Obama may be reaching out to the young voter, but the attendees at my precinct were of all ages, with a predominance of elderly women. The Senator Hillary Clinton delegates were ALL women. Many, many people present said they were torn between candidates, and found themselves willing to say they would come out and support which ever Democratic candidate is nominated...

Ultimately, I think Democrats are FINALLY glad to have not one, but two candidates they can support! I think many of us have thought these two candidates could fill both the Presidential and Vice Presidential slates. I heard Senator Hillary Clinton say the same, and the decision could be who takes which role.

Ultimately, whether Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is nominated as the party choice, I feel confident this fall I can support the Democratic Presidential candidate to the extent I can be supportive of the campaign in some way... It has been years and THANK YOU!

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