My First Caucus

I don’t understand our system. Here’s my experience. I have registered previously in Minnesota, but never at my current address. I had read on the internet that if you change your address, you must re-register, but that you could just register at the polls. So I walked to my caucus location, drivers license in hand to prove my identity and register to vote – but nobody ever asked to see it. I never filled out a voter registration card, and nobody ever asked me to prove my identity, or even if I am a U.S. citizen. I stood in line for a while, and a guy behind a table told me that if I’ve never caucused at this location all I have to do is write my name, physical address, email address, and phone number on a plain white sheet of paper. I did. Then he handed me a small, photocopied sheet of paper (maybe 4″ x 5″) with about 10 names on it. I thought everyone had dropped out except Clinton and Obama, so I was surprised to see such a long list, but I didn’t question it. I was surprised by how unofficial the ballot looked. I guess I expected a ballot ID#, or a state of MN seal or something. Nope. Just a photocopied list of 10 names.

At this point, I wasn’t sure what was going on. While waiting in line, I had seen quite a few people roaming around the building with their ballot, pen in hand, and quite a few just sitting around holding their ballot. I didn’t understand why they didn’t just put a small mark on it and hand it back in on the spot. Why are they walking around the building with it? Are they still trying to decide who they’re voting for or is there something I’m not understanding about this? I put a small x next to the name Obama and handed the sheet back to the guy behind the table. He tossed it in a box and I walked out of the building.

But how do they know if I’m who I say I was? Shouldn’t someone have checked my ID? Are they going to check the names of everybody that put their name on the list? If so, and they find that half of us were canadians, how are they going to identify which ballots to throw out? What would stop me from going from caucus to caucus giving false names and stacking the deck for my preferred candidate? I don’t understand our system at all.

3 comments to My First Caucus

  • UPDATE: Ok, so Mel went to the Republican caucus this evening and she says that she also filled out a little ballot thing, but that they just throw them away and they don't mean anything. She says that if I wanted to cast a vote that meant anything, I needed to stay for the entire meeting. Well, I thought that might have been the case while I was there, so I asked some lady about it. She said that I had already cast my vote so it didn't matter if I stayed. So I don't know if I actually voted or not.

  • UPDATE: I think thats just how the Republican caucus works. Their "straw poll" is non-binding and you had to stick around to vote for a delegate who will represent your candidate of choice at the next level of caucusing. I believe the Democrats take their popular vote seriously and proportion delegates out accordingly. I'm pretty sure your vote counted. I'm proud of us for being involved. Its hard to try to make responsible choices.

  • Tara

    Whoops, I meant to write I could NOT stay…