Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A night at the Caucus

Little B and I headed to the Caucus tonight. We got to have a 5-year-old version of Civics class, as I explained to B that we were to help choose the next President. B wants me to vote for Hillary. That's mainly because as a 5-year-old, this is a much more enjoyable tune than "Yes, We Can".

I've never been to a caucus before. The old home state of Tennessee had a primary, so this was to be a new experience. Our caucus site was an elementary school in Waikiki, so off we went around 6:00 PM. (N is both sick and an independent, so she was out.) Everyone predicted record turnouts for this caucus, but apparently no one expected how record of a turnout it would be. The first clue for the night should have been finding the closest parking space in a park a 15 minute walk away.

This may be the first time Hawai'i's caucus voting has ever mattered to anyone, and Obama has local ties having spent much of his youth here, and Hawaiians love nothing if not a local (ask Jasmine Trias from American Idol), and so we arrived to find the line wrapping out of the school cafeteria, around two different buildings, then all the way back out into the street. Nothing to do, but give up or get in line, so we did.

You can see some pictures of our Caucus site on one of our local paper's web sites here. Unfortunately, we are not in the pics, but picture 2 has Senator Inouye and his fiancee. (His wife passed away a couple years back.)

Obama support was clearly in evidence, but there were some Clinton supporters as well. I really only saw about three people actively campaigning by handing out literature or holding a sign. Otherwise, people were left alone to vote as they wished. An hour and a half later... yes, that's right, an hour and a half later, B, being 5, was breaking down. It's impressive he made it 90 minutes before deciding voting for President is not quite as exciting as his daddy lead him to believe. In fact, at this time, he had had enough of both Clinton and Obama who had been forcing him to stand in line forever and ever, and so he told me I should now vote for Robin Hood the Fox-Who-Shoots-Bows-and-Arrows. But through retelling Narnia stories and shooting water arrows, flying like a dragon, and strangers handing out cookies, we finally made it inside the building two hours after we had gotten in line.

They had run out of ballots long before we got in the door. In the Hawaii caucus you must be a registered Democrat, so the first item was to check the rolls, where I discovered that I, in fact, wasn't a Democrat. But you can register on site. After you prove you are a Democrat or simply become one, I think you're supposed to get a name tag. They seemed to have this idea that people might speak to each other, but there were hundreds and hundreds of tired people and most just wanted to go home. Regardless, they had long been out of name tags as well, so my name was written on a piece of paper, and then I was sent over to my precinct table in the school cafeteria. At the table, you sign-in on your precinct sheet, and then they gave me a scrap of paper torn off a yellow legal pad - the makeshift ballots that were all that was left. You scribble your candidate's name, drop it in the envelope, and then you are done.

We left for the caucus site at 6:00 and didn't drag back in until 9:00. There is an estimate of 4,000 people at our one caucus site alone. As of now, though only about 25% of the precincts have reported, it is an Obama landslide with him taking 3/4 of the vote. However, things may change some by the morning. After all, they have to hand read all those scribbles on yellow note pads.

Yes, I voted for Friar Tuck.


ChristineEldin said...

Wow! That's incredible!
But people shouldn't underestimate John McCain in the fall. That would work to his advantage.

So exciting!!!

Robin S. said...

You are a marvelous daddy. I vote for you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the description of the caucus out for us to read. It gives one a grass roots flavor into a bigger process. And yes, you are a great daddy. muffytrue