The western portion of the United States gets screwed by our current presidential primary and caucus system. The only state west of the Rockies that votes before March 22 for their party’s representative as Leader of the Free World™ is Nevada, which means a geographic third of the country is represented in the most crucial period of presidential politics by a state founded on brothels and blackjack.
But you finally have a vote.
This Saturday at 10:00am (arrive early if you can), Democrats in Washington state will gather in school gyms, community centers and their neighbors’ living rooms to caucus for their favorite candidate for President. Bernie Sanders’ hopes of a political revolution hang by a thread, and a big win here in Washington (with our 101 delegates) is perhaps the only thing that can keep his campaign alive. Likewise, a Hillary Clinton win on Saturday would make her nomination all but inevitable.
Your vote matters.
I attended my first Washington state precinct caucus in 2004, hopped-up on a fever dream of a President Dennis Kucinich…or Howard Dean…or John Kerry. Anyone but Bush. Four years later I was an Area Caucus Chair and Precinct Committee Officer at a chaotic John Stanford School, where 700 caucus-goers passionately discussed whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be better suited to clean up the mess created by the Worst President Ever®.
I don’t expect 2016 to feel quite as desperate as 2004, or as hopey/changey as 2008, but Democrats will likely come out in fairly large numbers to politely debate their preference for Bernie or Hillary. Due to budget constraints, fewer locations are being utilized than in caucuses past. I have been told that 50 precincts will be caucusing at Hamilton Middle School. That is five times the number of precincts that caucused in 2008 at John Stanford, so even with a lower turnout per precinct, expect a couple thousand people to show up at that one location.
Caucus locations will be crowded, so in order to keep things rolling smoothly, here are answers to some questions you may have:
• What precinct am I in? The Washington State Democrats have a “Find my Caucus Location” tool, where you can also pre-register, stating that you will attend the caucus and declaring who your preferred candidate is. This will be a nice timesaver for your caucus chairs.
• What if I can’t attend? Unfortunately it’s too late to submit a Surrogate Affidavit Form, which was due to the state Democratic Party last Friday. However, you can show up by 10:00am, submit your caucus form and leave. So even if you can’t spare the 90 minutes to 2 hours for the full meeting, your vote can still be counted.
• What if I’m not a Democrat? The Republicans have a primary sometime in May. Good luck with that.