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My experience at my first Iowa Democratic Caucus

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posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 11:03 AM
I've read many articles online discussing the confusion of how Iowa Caucus' work. It's my intention to relay my experience as plainly here as I can. Because of the nature of politics I will have to mention candidates and certain views but it is not my intention to hold a debate about policy here. As stated I attended the Democratic caucus so I will not be discussing the Republican side. Perhaps a member who attended a Republican caucus can relate their experience.

The caucus was to officially start at 7:00 p.m. I arrived with my sister at 6:20 p.m. There were two areas inside the school where we attended and the signage was slightly confusing. We were both registered as independents and had to mark democratic to participate. This is specific only to the caucus and makes no difference on how we can vote in the main election.

After verifying our address and ability to participate at that specific precinct we waited. People milled in for about a half hour and the line for registration completed about ten till 7:00 p.m. At 7:00 pm. the temporary chair called us to order. He read off a chart on the wall that had 16 steps per caucus rules. He called or us to appoint a permanent chair and everyone told him to do it. He mentioned eventually wish o retire from his position as he was getting old and had been doing this since 1982. He an the secretary both won their positions by acclimation. In other words, no one else wanted the job.

The floor was then opened for any politicians or there campaigners to speak. No one stood up to speak, not even any of the t-shirted volunteers. Snow was predicted to fall in Iowa starting Monday night and I believe everyone was ready to just streamline this and get home. I also believe that everyone was already decided.

more to come...

posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 11:38 AM
After that we were instructed to stand in area of the room designated for our candidates. There was a Bernie side and a Hillary side. O'malley and "other" had no supporters. We then counted the amount of people on each side and then matched it against the total number registered at the door to participate. We counted three times to make sure. The number in attendance was 71, with 40 for Bernie and 31 for Hillary.

After the numbers were counted and verified each camp was allowed to send people across to try to convince people to change allegiances. As stated earlier everyone seemed mostly predetermined. I believe this instance of the caucus is for persuading outliers that don't have a viable candidate. As Bernie and Hillary had at least 15% of present caucus goers they were considered viable. As no one was in an "other" or O'malley camp there was little room for budging.

I stood for Bernie. One of the Hillary supporters came over to argue her side but moved on after I said "Patriot act, single payer, Iraq war." I am stating this not to open debate, though I'm sure it will happen, but to help you understand why supporters for these candidates stand ground, or at least from my personal perspective. They were congenial and everyone seemed respectful to the other side. Ideology separated us, and we all stood our ground. No one switched sides and the tally became official.

Through the miracle of caucus rules and mathematical formula this 40/31 split gave each candidate 3 delegates a piece. About half in attendance had a phone with calculator going, or a calculator to recheck these numbers about 20 times. We were able to determine that if Bernie had two more supporters we would have gone 4/6 split on the delegates. There were no coin tosses.

After the delegate count was established we appointed delegates. Volunteers from each campaign were quick to volunteer for these positions. I signed up as an alternate. Should one of these volunteers fall ill or flake off, I will be called. That means I could go to the county later to express a vote for Bernie. As an aside appointed delegates are required to vote as the numbers fall but alternates are not. That means that I could conceivably vote Hillary later if called as an alternate. This is why I volunteered as an alternate as I wished to remain in my camp. please don't flame me for these rules as they are not mine. Delegates will pass on to county, then state, then to convention. I m simplifying this process for time and brevity but feel free to delve into the official rules.

With delegates and alternatives appointed it was time to appoint committee members. Only those chosen as delegates and alternates could be appointed. Only one person, a man who had done this before did stand forth and we spent ten minutes staring at each other begging someone else to step up. I explained I worked weekends and doing this would essentially mean I'd be up in the middle of my night to do this. The chairman said we could stay there all night if needed. I eventually acquiesced and volunteered. Everyone likes to be counted, no one wanted to do much else.

The chair called for more discussion of which non came forward. The delegates and committee people left contact information with the secretary and we called it a night. We look forward to haring from the party.

Overall it was an interesting thing to experience. Before I moved to Iowa I had always done primaries through a ballot. I was happy to participate. Even though I sometimes fall victim to a cynical mindset of why bother but I still believe it is my civic duty.

This is related from memory and I am not a politician. Any mistakes are mine alone. I just wished to relate my experience to other members that do not reside in caucus states or don't live in the U.S.A.

Feel free to ask questions.

posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 11:53 AM
a reply to: Seiko

Thanks for the description of your experience. Good for you for going. It sounds interesting.

The caucus system wouldn't work very well in Texas because we're all armed to the teeth and carry concealed weapons. It could get quite messy!

posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 12:00 PM
a reply to: TonyS

I was actually surprised at how congenial everyone was. Technically all in attendance were representing the same party. I couldn't imagine if both major parties were represented in the same room.

posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 12:01 PM
a reply to: Seiko

That would probably never happen. Birds of a feather, if you know what I mean.

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