I went to my first ever caucus tonight. However, I did not vote. Life, it seems, is full of surprises.
Yesterday I called the Colorado Democratic Party to verify whether or not Jody and I were registered Democrats, because in order to vote in a caucus you must be registered as one party or the other. The woman I talked to told me that I was a dem, but that Jody was unaffiliated. I thought it odd at the time that I would’ve declared a party and not him, but I said OK, excited that I’d be able to participate in the caucus.
Fast-forward to tonight. I got online to verify the address of the school where the caucus would be held and in the process I came across a site that allows you to look up your political affiliation. For some reason, I decided to put in my information and was a bit surprised when I came up as “unaffiliated.” How could that be?! Was I registered or not? I figured I’d have to wait and find out for sure when we got to the school.
Jody and I agreed that we’d all go to the caucus tonight regardless of the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to vote (and, after the most recent development, even if I ended up not being able to vote). He was interested in learning more about the process, as was I, so after grabbing a quick takeout dinner, we headed to the school, kids in tow.
The line to get checked in was out the door and we had to park two blocks away. While I’d never been to a caucus before, I had a feeling it was a larger than normal turnout and that was exciting.
I made my way to the front of the check-in line and the volunteer behind the table searched for my name, but it was not on her list. I told her my story about being told I was a registered dem, but then finding myself unaffiliated online and she said it didn’t sound like I could vote, but there was one other person I could check with just to be sure. So I went over to that woman and she did a search for my name online and found that I was, in fact, unaffiliated. Bollocks. She said that we could still sit in if we like, provided that it didn’t get too crowded, so after letting the kids run the halls a bit, we made our way into the second of two gymnasiums packed full of people in bleachers.
My guess is that there were about 400-500 people in the gym we were in. We were told it was a record turnout and Jody overheard a man saying that if even 1/4 of the number of people showed up tonight, it would have been a record. A woman mentioned that when she usually comes, there are about 5 people there for her precinct, so this was really huge.
We took our place on the floor (where everyone with kids seemed to settle in). Ava was content to sit there and eat her dinner, but not Julian. He had no intention of sitting still and wriggled his way free of Jody and made his way out into the middle of the gym floor where the “super chair” was speaking. The chairman noticed him standing there and made a comment to the crowd, “Oh, here’s our youngest democrat!” The crowd chuckled and gave a hearty round of applause. And Julian stood there happy as a clam, smiling at his audience, until daddy whisked him away. ;)
It wasn’t long after that that Jody took the kids out into the hallway, where they could both run freely (and they weren’t the only ones who had grown tired of the festivities), while I stayed in the gym to experience the event.
We lingered about an hour, until the two large groups broke up into smaller groups by precinct which was just about the same time that the kids were showing signs that they were ready to head home. Truth be told, after a night of little sleep (both kids had the sniffles and Julian was up more times than I can count), a pap smear and a trip back to the dentist to pick up my new bite guard today (it fits!), I was ready too.
It would’ve been interesting to see what exactly went on in the precincts too and to be a part of the voting process, but I’ll have to find out next time, after I get myself registered as a democrat. ;)
While I was disappointed that I didn’t get to place my vote, I am glad that I got the opportunity to experience a bit of a caucus. Had I been told initially that I was unaffiliated, I doubt we would’ve bothered going.
Regardless of who emerges as the winner tonight (though in Colorado, it appears to be Obama – yay!), it was awesome to see so many people stepping up and making a difference. Yes we can. :)