Super Tuesday: Minnesota Caucus

So unless you\’ve been living under a rock, or doing a much better job at avoiding the media than I have, you have probably heard that today is Fat Tuesday… er, wait… make that Super Tuesday! You are also probably aware that this Presidential election is the most exciting and wide open in a million years… or some such nonsense.

With that being said Chelle and I decided to participate in Minnesota\’s version of Super Tuesday fun, the Caucus.

You may be asking yourself, \”what\’s a caucus?\” Well here is a good video from the Al Franken campaign that\’ll explain everything.

We made the decision to go to the local Democratic Caucus. Not so much because of our political leanings, but mostly because it was about 1.5 miles away as opposed to the Republican Caucus which was about 10 miles away.

Using all of my intellect and tens of thousands of dollars of education, I can sum up the caucus in one word: stupid.

Our caucus was held at the local middle school. We left early to pick up a friend who lives right by the school. Had the weather been better we would have considered walking, the traffic was akin to a football game at the school. It should be noted that there is only one way in and out of the local middle school, making traffic a nightmare on cool crisp Friday nights in the fall; tonight was even worse.

Upon parking and entering the school, we were greeted with bedlam. There were several maps of our city up on the walls showing the various wards, and sub-wards, with map experts assisting the throngs of people with figuring out where they lived. Apparenly map reading is a lost art. I would guess that 7 out of 10 people needed to actually speak to someone to find themselves on a map. Quite sad.

In their defense, our city has a few peculiar areas, one of which happens to be where we live. We live on a peninsula (according to city boundaries), and as it turned out, our sub-ward is different from the section of the city we connect to. It would have been nice for the map to show this, but instead we waited in line at the wrong room only to find out that we were in the wrong place (there was sub-ward specific map that showed we didn\’t belong) and the people at the door sent us back to the main hallway. We fought our way back to the main hall and as I patiently waited to speak to a map expert I bit my tongue as I was cut in front of no less than 7 times. Who knew Democrats were so rude.

Eventually it turned out that we needed to go to the cafeteria (or cafetoria as it was spelled on the makeshift signs). We threw ourselves into the throngs of people and eventually found the \”cafetoria\” where were greeted with another line. Once we reached the front of this line I had expected to check in much the same way you would on election day. But no, I was instructed to put my name and address on a form and take a seat. As Chelle said later, \”I could have voted as Mickey Mouse\”. There was no validation of who you were.

We then took a seat, and we were lucky to get one. The cafeteria only had half the area filled with tables and it was obvious they would need the whole area for seating. The reason this is important is as we moved to the next phase in caucusing we had to be seated before a pleasant, and overwhelmed, young woman would give us our ballot for casting a vote for President (which was the first caucus on the night). Now our ballot was a small yellow scrap of paper, much like a post-it note without the sticky part, on which we were to write our presidential candidate of choice. We were instructed to choose from a list on a white board that listed all of the candidates on the Democratic side, even those that had dropped out (Richardson, Dodd, etc.), as well as an \”Uncommitted\” option. Once you wrote a name, or Uncommitted, on your scrap of paper you held it up in the air and a young girl carrying a popcorn bucket (yes, you read that right) would come around and let you drop it in the bucket. If you were only voting for President that was all you needed to do and you were free to leave. We had only planned to participate in the Presidential Caucus and we were so disappointed at this point we took the invitation to leave and give our precious seats to folks who were still pouring in or willing to stay all night to wait for the Senate and other races.

We swam upstream to make our way out of the school and back to our car. As bad as the crowds were on the way in, it was twice as bad on the way out. As we left the parking lot and drove home the traffic that was terrible had gone to unbeliveable. Traffic was backed up on all roads for miles. Nothing but headlights as far as I could see in every direction.

To say I was disappointed is truly an understatement. Going into the caucus I had found the idea quite silly and juvenile. The idea of getting into groups and determining the validity of each group and then shifting groups seemed so… high school. However, the actual experience was even more poorly conceived than what the video linked above described. I was not expecting such chaos and a complete lack of explanation of the process at the caucus. Had I the time and patience I would have stuck around to find out what (and when) my vote would be counted and how it would be resolved with so many people no longer in attendance. But honestly, I no longer cared.

As much as I have derided the caucus, I can\’t think of any better way to resolve number of candidates… besides holding a primary; which only leaves me with one thing left to say. When is Minnesota going to go to a Primary?







5 responses to “Super Tuesday: Minnesota Caucus”

  1. alex Avatar

    That sounds awful. We have a primary on Tuesday, but still lacking a permanent address, I doubt I’ll be able to participate.

  2. ed Avatar

    you’ve probably already missed the registration deadline anyway, alex. the midwestern states (most notably wisconsin and minnesota) are fairly atypical in making voting so easy that literally anyone can do it. (often as many times as they would like. ๐Ÿ™‚ i’d be surprised if Virginia has an at-the-poll registration option.

  3. Explosive Bombchelle Avatar

    Alex, if you wanna vote head to Alexandria and give them my name… apparently I’m still showing up on the registry in the district I moved away from in 1999.

  4. alex Avatar

    Well if they’re not checking IDs I suppose I could plausibly pretend to be of French heritage… ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Mark Avatar

    What can I say, wadE & Chelle, except that it comes as no surprise that a Democratic Caucus would be that bad.
    For once being an “expat” made life so much more simple.
    Kara and I are registered with Democrats Abroad – the Republicans had no interest in us. For Super Tuesday we registered ahead of time at the Democrats Abroad website and then had 7 days to cast our votes – we’re registered in CO – via e-mail. It took all of five minutes, done from our registered e-mail address. If only you could do the same thing via e-mail in MN. One more reason to join us up here in Toronto. ๐Ÿ™‚

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