Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

I've been a longtime proponent of eliminating caucuses once in for all, even in Iowa.  If Ohio had voted this morning in a caucus, attendance would be in low numbers since the tristate got hammered with snow.  Would they push it back, I don't know.

Caucuses don't allow for early voting for those that are out of state or can't make it due to age or other variable factors.

But, more importantly, as this comment at Page One Kentucky points out, we disenfranchise our own troops that are fighting for America's liberties and freedoms and defending her overseas.

The major problem I have with caucus voting is that it seriously disinfranchises many voters. There is not one soldier who is fighting in Iraq or Afganistan that has the opportunity to vote in a caucus. Not one! Many senior citizens or people with kids cannot go to a caucus and stand for 2 hours to vote. This means that the ones that have the time to go have more voice than others. That is wrong.
I completely agree with the above statement.

And as this comment points out, if we want to truly elect the Democratic nominee, we should stop having open primaries.

Tags: 2008, Caucuses (all tags)

Comments

37 Comments

Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Caucuses occur because they are a lot cheaper than primaries.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 04:51PM | 0 recs
Interesting

.. so are you saying that democracy goes to the lowest bidder?

by kevin22262 2008-03-08 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting

I stated a fact, not my personal opinion.  Relax.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Yeah, the troops don't matter.  Only Obama matters.

I thought you'd gotten that memo.

by Sensible 2008-03-08 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Where are his 27 flag officers?

by Safe at Home 2008-03-08 11:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Wow, that really wasn't the point of the comment. It was a response to the claim that HRC would do better in caucus states because of the military vote, it wasn't an attempt to argue that BHO has been given credibility by his support from the military. Two very different arguments.

by shef 2008-03-09 12:16AM | 0 recs
There is absentee balloting

for many caucuses

by MILiberal 2008-03-08 04:57PM | 0 recs
It rarely

if ever is done or is counted.

by kevin22262 2008-03-08 05:06PM | 0 recs
Source for that?

I really am curious.

by MILiberal 2008-03-08 05:09PM | 0 recs
ME

I have been to many caucuses. I have talked to many people who have caucused MUCH longer than you and I put together. I live in Tacoma, WA with military bases all around me.

So my source is ME.

by kevin22262 2008-03-08 05:12PM | 0 recs
So what happened to the absentee votes

that weren't counted? And why weren't they counted?

by MILiberal 2008-03-08 05:14PM | 0 recs
usually

there are NONE. I have seen maybe 2 so called absentee ballots. It is not an easy thing to do. Most will not do it.

I saw lots of confusion in our caucuses. It was nuts. Most people just tried to get the core voting of the people who were actually there completed. There was little if any oversite to prove the age of the voter or if they were even registered.

Actually, I could have voted in my caucus, went to other tables or other locations and voted there and then go to a republican caucus and also voted there. As long as I had enough time before the final tally and if I wanted to be an ass and nobody noticed, I could have done this.

Here is some info on my states caucuses.
http://www.wa-democrats.org/index.php?pa ge=display&id=266

Look for question 11.

Also see more here.
http://www.wa-democrats.org/caucusinfo

Most people have no clue as to how to run these things. There is always confusion and always mistakes.

by kevin22262 2008-03-08 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Source for that?

Yeah, most caucuses don't have absentee ballots.  One or two might.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Then we have to find a way to pay for primaries.  It's the truth of the matter; they are cheaper, some states won't flip the bill and will instead pass it to the political party.

I may be an Obama supporter, but I can look past politics to say that some things could definitely change in the nomination process.    It'd be ideal to have primaries, but, as I said.. money.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 04:59PM | 0 recs
Find ways?

What the fuck? They "find ways" to pay for special elections for house seats, for school bonds, for sports stadiums! Please do NOT play this stupid money argument, it does NOT hold water!

Democracy is MOST important!

by kevin22262 2008-03-08 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Find ways?

I'm NOT defending it, I'm just telling you why we have caucuses in the first place.  States don't want to pay, and sometimes the party wants to focus on winning in November.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 05:11PM | 0 recs
Nonsense.

People have actually voted much longer than this caucus BS. Voting is EASY to do and EASY to count.

Most counties have lots of volunteers that help with the process.

Most counties put other things on the ballot.

Cost is a BS issue.

by kevin22262 2008-03-08 05:14PM | 0 recs
We value capitalism more than democracy

Hence why we let our voting machines be controlled by private companies that do not even allow us to inspect the source code.

If there are two options, one of which is more democratic, and one of which is cheaper (for them), states will probably be split evenly over the two.

by MILiberal 2008-03-08 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

When our 2 candidates can raise 80 million in one month, I think the people in the caucus states can definitely chime in money for good of democracy. A primary in smaller states will cost around 1 million, just a guess.

by Sandeep 2008-03-08 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Maybe they could lower the cost of primaries by having mail-ins in the states that cannot afford them.

by LadyEagle 2008-03-08 05:10PM | 0 recs
A while ago,

I read a diary by a person who said he volunteered for Kerry in Florida, 2004. According to him, many of the African-American voters there insisted on voting in person and refused to vote absentee because they didn't trust the results after what happened in 2000.

I have no idea if he was right, but it is a cautionary tale to listen to - especially with the talk of organizing a new mail-in primary for FL.

by MILiberal 2008-03-08 05:13PM | 0 recs
Re: A while ago,

I can understand concern about mail-in or absentee voting, especially in FL where there have been abuses.  However, the trend is to more, not less, absentee voting, and, as one who has voted absentee for 5-6 yrs now, I much prefer it to election day voting. - More time to study the issues and candidates, especially those down-ballot, and it can be done at any hour of the day or night without time pressure.

My home state (Ohio) now permits absentee voting without cause, -such as out-of-town, disability, age, emergency worker, etc.- and requests for absentee ballots have increased  to about 20% of the total votes. (That figure includes early voting, which could be done in a cost-counting primary at a local BoE).  BoEs and the Sec. of State are encouraging absentee voting as poll workers are aging (average age in the 70s) and poll workers are harder to find, not to mention training them on increasingly sophisticated equipment and methods.    

Those who are averse to absentee voting could vote at the BoE in early voting

by susie 2008-03-08 05:41PM | 0 recs
Caucuses cause terrorists to dance in the street

this is so dumb.

by puma 2008-03-08 05:14PM | 0 recs
Heh

If we count Wyoming, THE TERRORISTS WIN!!!!

by ChrisR 2008-03-08 05:25PM | 0 recs
I agree 100%

Who is going to pay for the primaries and early voting to fix it?

by Walt Starr 2008-03-08 05:19PM | 0 recs
So Change It Next Cycle

First of all, it's not true that caucuses disproportionately affect soldiers abroad. It depends on the caucus. Maine, for example, provided absentee voting specifically for troops serving abroad and for other categories of individuals who could not attend the caucus. Some primaries are much more difficult for absentee voting, especially those closed primaries which require multiple express mail exchanges (application to register as a Democrat and/or voter, receive application, return application, application for ballot, receive application, return application, get ballot, return ballot....) There's just no way to get that done, and there's no equivalent to the one-shot federal generic absentee ballot.

Democrats Abroad had the best system of all, and any soldier stationed abroad could vote in that primary. (Many did.) Obama picked up +2 pledged delegates from that contest.

But it's a moot issue now. If you don't like caucuses, then work to change the presidential nomination system for 2012 and get more primaries funded. (That's the big challenge, actually.) If you didn't like the Electoral College in 2000, then work to change that, too, while you're at it. (I thought that was something Senator Clinton was going to change when she won her first term. Am I mistaken in my recollection?)

By the way, if troops did have an easier time of voting, they'd probably add more votes to the Obama column. He gets much more financial support from soldiers than Clinton because of his Iraq War position and because of simple demographics. Soldiers are predominantly young, male, and many are African-American. They are not Clinton's natural demographic constituencies. Obama has already done quite well in states with heavy local military populations, like Virginia, Washington, and Georgia.

That's the major reason you don't hear the Clinton campaign making this particular argument against caucuses.

I would also add that caucuses generally, historically have favored the well-funded establishment candidate. Clinton did not object to caucuses at the beginning of the process for that reason. (Mondale in 1984 did quite well in caucuses, for example, keeping insurgent Gary Hart from winning the nomination.) In fact, this is quite a remarkable year in that the insurgent is beating the establishment candidate at her own game.

The 2008 delegate selection system was, more than most years, tailor made for a candidate like Senator Clinton. The biggest reason was the massively front-loaded Super Tuesday on February 5th. Clinton should have cleaned up on that day and crushed any opponent -- normally that sort of vote overwhelmingly favors the candidate who simply has the highest name recognition -- but it didn't work out that way. So it's pretty silly for the candidate favored by the system to now be complaining that the system isn't right for her. It's completely absurd, actually. It's not like her campaign was a passive observer as the states submitted their delegate selection plans. The Clinton campaign loved the 2008 system, in fact.

by BBCWatcher 2008-03-08 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: So Change It Next Cycle

Yes, what he said.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

As far as I am concerned this is not about either candidate, it is about fairness and the appearance of fairness. I don't care who it favors, people should not be turned away from any polling or voting place because it is full.

We need to look beyond this election and change the system going frward.

by LadyEagle 2008-03-08 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

We have absentee ballots for the Maine caucuses.  I'd love to see a breakdown on the number of caucus states that do that -- something rigorous and systematic.  And I think all caucus states should have absentee ballots.

by mainelib 2008-03-08 05:35PM | 0 recs
No, they don't.
I personally know several servicemen that took leave to caucus in their home states, and I know a few that sent their caucus ballots in absentee.
And as I have observed, Clinton does not do well among servicemen, especially not now.
Also there was a program to help troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to caucus, but I don't know how well that program worked.
In any case, if it is Clinton vs McCain, then don't expect Hillary to get much support from the military. War heroes and veterans do well among the troops. But out of the three Obama has received the most donations from servicemen (and I am one of them).
by fetboy 2008-03-08 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Caucuses also disenfranchise the elderly, people who are sick or disabled, people with multiple jobs, people who work nights or weekends, working parents, caregivers, emergency workers, medical workers, and people who travel frequently for business.

In other words, they disenfranchise the Democratic base.

by LakersFan 2008-03-08 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

The recent discussions reminds me of George Orwell's Animal Farm. It is appearing more and more that many people on both sides have gotten so attached to their candidates that they are willing to justify a system that disenfranchises voters.

People are talking about rules that would give an election to someone who may lose the popular vote: others are talking about having an election count where the opponent was not on the ballot.

I fully expect the candidates to spin the information to suit themselves, but when people who say they are progressives start to dehumanize each other and the candidates, it is time for pause.

The altruism seems to have disappeared and each side is willing to take a page out of the Rovian play book. If this is the case, what is the difference in voting for John McCain?

by LadyEagle 2008-03-08 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Thank you for that.

by Setrak 2008-03-08 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

I don't think caucuses are perfect, but I think some may oppose them because their candidate doesn't do well in them.

If Hillary did well, the complaints would be fewer by far.

But we do need to fix some aspects.  In normal voting, you can usually absentee if you are unable to get to the poll or will be out of the county on that given day.  I see no reason why those rules shouldn't apply to caucuses, as well.  

by freedom78 2008-03-08 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Well if Hillary had not authorized the Iraq war resolution maybe they would be stateside to vote...This specious argument is as lame as her croc tears at the disabled vets she witnessed returning home.  Yeah they got wounded performing the duty you condemned them to do HIllary.  The problem with Hillary is she has a tne minute memory.  'While I may have helped send you to war because it was politically expediant...I reserve the right to critisize the treatment you receive for doing what I asked you to do'...talk about unpatriotic?

by conqdad 2008-03-08 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Caucuses disenfranchise our troops

Why does Obama hate the troops?

Vote Hillary.  She even engineered the military campaign in the Balkans!

by mddem456 2008-03-08 07:07PM | 0 recs
Michigan Solution

When I voted in the 2004 Michigan caucus  I voted absentee.  The way it was handled was that whoever I voted for counted as my first round choice.  If my first choice wasn't viable, however, my vote would get thrown out.  If we tweaked the system so that I could have a 1st, 2nd, and etc choices then we could have early voting in caucuses.  A caucus isn't inherently undemocratic, just the way they are currently being executed.

Once 2008 is over, I have a feeling we'll be taking a lot of look at nomination process.  Including caucuses, super delegates, and scheduling.

by maddogg 2008-03-08 07:58PM | 0 recs

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