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News, Opinion

Caucuses are a Mess

If you went to a caucus on Super Tuesday you know quite well that the process is one of the most cumbersome ways to vote.  The organization is weak, regulation is minimal and the process involves an ungodly amount of time.  Choosing a party candidate should be quick and painless.  Without further ado, here are the reasons the Colorado Caucus, and I imagine all other state caucuses should be disbanded.

Primarily, the organization of caucuses are convoluted and difficult to navigate.  My local caucus was held at University Park Elementary.  To get into the place my family had to wait in line for 30 minutes outside just to get into the building and get directed to the room where our precinct was caucusing.  Then after another 30 minute wait for all members of our precinct to join us voting began.  I spent an hour of my time and the process hadn’t even begun.  The resulting discussion and final caucus vote would take another 45 minutes.  For those that have only faint interest in politics, spending this much time to vote compared to the 10-30 minutes to vote in a general election seems preposterous.

Moving into the structure of the caucus, you are placed with people who live in your precinct.  These are your neighbors and friends.  Voicing your political views openly with these people especially when you disagree may cause bitterness and conflict among neighbors.  In our particular precinct, discussion got heated and strayed from the discussion of which candidate would be better suited for the Democratic nomination, and moved into personal attacks on differences in opinion.  In a time when community ties seem to be fraying, neighbors don’t need more reasons to grow distant from each other.

Lastly, caucuses are frankly undemocratic.  In a time when Americans value the idea that every vote counts equally, caucuses don’t make each vote equal.  In caucuses, delegates are selected proportionally based on the precinct vote.  In the precinct I attended we would have 5 delegates represent us.  When the final vote was cast Clinton had won by a narrow 1 vote out of 87 people who attended.  Our precinct had about 50-50 support for both candidates.  This was not echoed in the number of delegates the precinct pledged to each candidate.  Clinton received 3 of the 5 delegates and Sanders received 2.  Clinton got 60 percent of the voting delegates when only 50 percent of our precinct preferred her.  It easily could have been flipped in favor of Sanders if only 2 people switched their vote from Clinton to Sanders.

Their are better ways to nominate a candidate than caucuses, and the plurality of sates use it.  It is called the primary.  Primaries are run like general elections, where polling places open in the morning and are open all day.  People vote when they have time.  There is no hassle, and your vote is completely private. Lastly, your vote is just as important no matter where you live in Colorado.   It was not that long ago that Colorado hosted primaries.  Colorado has had primaries from 1988 up until 2003 when Colorado opted for the Caucus system.  Why can’t we bring the primary back?  Primaries are easier, less time consuming, and less confusing.