Until I moved to Seattle seven years ago, I had no idea what a caucas system was. I participated in the caucus for the last election, and today was the caucus for the primaries in the ’08 presidential election.
Caucasing is a messy, chaotic, noisy, and visceral way of voting. The democratic party determines 100% of it’s electoral delegates in Washington from the caucus system.
It starts out with everyone more or less cramming into this huge room. The turnout this year was significantly higher than 4 years ago – I remember we could all fit into the school gym last time, and we had to break out almost immediately this time.
We organized by precincts, and signed in. As you might imagine, most of the trouble was just finding out where the hell you were supposed to go and what you were supposed to do.
We then break down into our individual precincts (precinct 1744 of district 36) and get into rooms where we can sort of hear each other. At this point, each precinct has a number of delegates we’re going to shove up to the next level of this process, and we need to decide among them.
In our case, we had folks support Obama on one side, Clinton on the other, and a few undecided (of which I was one) fence sitting in the middle. Our precinct had 6 delegates to kick up to the next level, and the math worked out so that the undecided crew didn’t have enough folks to warrant a delegate of our own. Of interest is that if you do have enough “undecided”, you can send an “undecided” delegate up to the next level of the caucus system.
After much chaos, a few miscounts, and a discussion around the specific mathematical process of assigning our six delegates, we finally picked up. Then it was picking the individuals that would be those delegates, and signing everything up.
Our precinct sent 4 delegates for Obama, and 2 for Clinton. The next level of this process apparently happens on April 5th, but I expect that number to hold reasonably true across the area. From my walk down to Queen Anne Ave and back, I heard lots of people talking about the caucus numbers, and there were a lot of “4 obama, 1 clinton” and “4 obama, 2 clinton” kinds of numbers being bandied about. I guess this city just leans towards being a Barack Obama kinda place.