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Friday, February 1, 2008

Caucus Potus

posted by on February 1 at 14:03 PM

Yesterday, a reader asked:

I feel dumb asking this, but how can there be mail-in primary ballots in WA, and also these meet-up, informal sounding caucuses?

Posted by feel dumb | January 31, 2008 9:44 AM

This is a very, very good question. I got my absentee ballot for the February 19 primary in the mail yesterday and combed it carefully for any indication that my vote for a Democratic candidate would not count. (It won’t. The Democratic Party is using the results of next Saturday’s “informal sounding” caucus exclusively.) Nothing. I understand this is a stupid power play between the parties and our (Republican) secretary of state, but seriously. Should the state government be in the business of misleading the public about its impact on the nomination process?

Here’s the deal: IF YOU LIVE IN WASHINGTON AND WANT TO HELP CHOOSE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT, you have to caucus on Saturday, February 9 at 1 pm at your caucus location (find yours here). You can register for the first time or change your address at the caucus site (not sure if you’re registered at your current address? try searching for yourself on this locater), but it’s a good idea to bring your own registration materials (download a voter registration form [PDF] and print it out). You are also allowed to caucus if you’re only 17 but will be 18 on November 4, 2008.

Caucusing is easy. I did it for the first time in 2004, and without any experience whatsoever, I was elected a delegate for Dean and went on to represent my precinct at the legislative district, county, and state levels. But you don’t have to run as a delegate if you don’t want to. Here’s how it works:

First, you sign in with your name and your presidential preference. If you were for Edwards or Kucinich and you haven’t decided whom to switch to, just sign in as “uncommitted.” There will be time to switch later.

Next, you get together with your precinct (which is tiny—just a block or two, in most cases) and break into candidate groups. The Precinct Committee Officer will figure out what percentage of the attendees each candidate has, and people will speak in support of their candidate. If your candidate (or “uncommitted”) doesn’t get enough votes to earn a delegate, you then have the opportunity to join a viable group—or, if you’re savvy, you’ll convince people from a viable group to defect and push your group over the threshold. Since there are only two real candidates remaining this year, this math shouldn’t be too complicated.

Once the final percentages are set, the Precinct Committee Officer will divvy up your precinct’s alloted delegates proportionally. You’ll be told how many delegates your candidate gets, and then you’ll elect that number of delegates (plus alternates) to represent that candidate at later caucuses and conventions. Don’t agree to run unless you know you can make the legislative district meeting.

Once this is all over, you can submit new planks, in writing, to the state Democratic platform or vote on planks that other people propose. (This is how Kucinich supporters got a “Department of Peace” plank into the state platform in 2004. Use your powers wisely.)

After that, you get to go home.

To reiterate: THE PRIMARY DOES NOT COUNT. (Unless you’re a Republican. Or if you’re a Democrat or independent who can’t make the caucuses and would prefer that Mitt Romney were the Republican nominee. Just sayin’.)

Any questions?

RSS icon Comments

1

The irrelevance of the Dem primary is mentioned in the state-issued voters' guide and in several places on the WA Secretary of State's website (including the FAQs about the primary and the caucuses) . So no, the evil secretary of state isn't trying to hide it from you.

Posted by elsewhere | February 1, 2008 2:11 PM
2

this is great, thanks for the info... one more dumb question though.. what is a plank?

Posted by jameyb | February 1, 2008 2:17 PM
3

How carefully is the "I will not participate in another party's primary" pledge enforced? I mean, would the Democratic Party really care if I cast a ballot for Romney in the primary?

Posted by tsm | February 1, 2008 2:19 PM
4

Thanks for the info...
Question: Can I caucus in say Ballard if I'm registered at an address in QA, or do I have to caucus at the precinct closest to my registered addy?

Posted by D | February 1, 2008 2:21 PM
5

What pisses me off about this is that I was never taught any of this in high school (I never took a related class in college) and I'd never even heard of a Washington state caucus until earlier this year! (No adult ever told me a damn thing!)

So for the last 7 years I always thought I was doing the right thing just by voting in the primaries. Wrong.

Posted by Hey wait | February 1, 2008 2:21 PM
6

I even have always read the state-issued voters' guide... though I hadn't read it cover to cover, I guess.

Posted by Hey wait | February 1, 2008 2:23 PM
7

@2:

1 a: a heavy thick board; especially : one 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) thick and at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide b: an object made of a plank or planking c: planking

2 a: an article in the platform of a political party b: a principal item of a policy or program

Just a statement expressing support for something. You can see examples in the current platform.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 2:25 PM
8

@4: You can caucus in a) the precinct where you used to live, only if you haven't yet changed your registration; or b) the precinct where you now live, whether or not you've changed your registration. You may not caucus in some random precinct on the other side of town.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 2:28 PM
9

@3: That is a very interesting question. Josh Feit spoke to the secretary of state about it, so he might be able to give you more information.

Here's what I know: In order to caucus with the Ds and then vote with the Rs, you would have to break two oaths, one saying you consider yourself a Democrat and will not participate in another party's nominating process, and the other saying you are a member of the Republican party and have not participated in any other party's nominating process.

If you're psyched about breaking oaths (I can't comment on legal issues), however, I don't see how this could hurt your caucus participation. Once you choose your candidate's delegate(s), you're home free. However, the parties are sharing lists of participants with each other, so if they think to look, the Rs may not count your ballot.

We're still looking into this.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 2:35 PM
10

The Washington Democrats have created an informative five minute YouTube video describing what happens on Caucus Day (Feb 9th). If you've never done this before, it's worth 5 minutes of your time.

http://www.wa-democrats.org/index.php?page=display&id=245#caucusvid

It's VERY important for you to attend your caucus if you want any say whatsoever in the ultimate selection of Hillary vs Barack as the Democratic nominee.

But once we get through this year, let's all lobby our legislators (or the Democratic Party? Who makes these rules?) to change this system. Seems like a big waste of money to hold a primary election on Feb. 19th that means absolutely nothing and has no bearing on candidate selection from this state.

Posted by Steve | February 1, 2008 2:46 PM
11

@3 - yes, you may go to jail if you do that.

No, I'm not joking.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 2:46 PM
12

@9 - Ah, I didn't realize that you were also making an oath when you voted in the primary. Well, it makes sense that they might enforce that; I suspect the GOP actually would be annoyed about me caucusing with the Democrats and then voting in their primary.

Thanks.

Posted by tsm | February 1, 2008 2:47 PM
13

I have to work that day. How am I supposed to caucus? This is ridiculous.

Posted by Blacksheep | February 1, 2008 2:52 PM
14

I have to get a sitter. How long does caucusing take?

Posted by Dee | February 1, 2008 2:53 PM
15

Not only is it an oath, it's a legally binding signed and dated oath in both cases.

But, nobody will be checking to see WHO you voted for in WHICH - so you could vote for Kucinich or Dodd in the State Primary and vote for Obama or Gravel in the State Caucus - and even change your mind part way thru the caucus and vote for Obama or Gore.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 2:57 PM
16

we shouldn't do stuff if we wouldn't like it if the other side did it ....there will be a written record of your breaking oaths.....all info flies everywhere these days...

Posted by unPC | February 1, 2008 2:57 PM
17

@13: I'm very sorry. I encourage you to play spoiler in the R primary and then bring your righteous complaint to the state Democratic party.

@14: Not too terribly long. As I recall, last time mine took a little over one hour, including platform debate, which you don't have to participate in. Block off three hours and you should be very safe.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:00 PM
18

@15: What would be the point of voting for someone else in the primary? You're diluting my message. THE PRIMARY DOESN'T COUNT FOR Ds.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:03 PM
19

Okay, print this fucking post out and take it with you to the caucus. I was for Dean in '04 and when he failed to get enough votes to be viable, I wanted to get together with the Clark people, and the guy running our precinct told us that wasn't possible, since he hadn't reached viability either.

Don't let anyone bully you.

Posted by Gitai | February 1, 2008 3:04 PM
20

Is it socially acceptable to bring a small child to the caucus, or is half of every set of parents disenfranchised?

Posted by MHD | February 1, 2008 3:14 PM
21

Annie, there will not be any discussion of, or voting on, platform planks or resolutions at this year's caucuses. Any written proposals will be collected and passed along to the next level.

That way, a) the 453 variations on ITMFA or IRV or publicly financed elections or whatever will be combined, and b) the caucus will end before the clock on room rentals expires.

Posted by N in Seattle | February 1, 2008 3:16 PM
22

@20: Kids are allowed. As to whether it's socially acceptable, that kind of depends on whether your immediate neighbors are assholes.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:19 PM
23

@21: Thanks, I'll correct that.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:20 PM
24

Annie - BIG change this year from 4 years ago - there is no longer a 15% viability round for the caucus.

You go - one person from each campaign makes the pitch for his/her candidate, you split into candidate clusters and you do the math. There is no viability limit, and hence, no second round of moving folks around.

Of course, it's sill all about the math - if you don't have enough people to mathematically earn one of the 2-7 possible delegates in your precinct, it doesn't matter who you caucus for.

Posted by el ganador | February 1, 2008 3:34 PM
25

this is a fairly new "system", and will likely be replaced soon. of all the evil things republicans do, this doesn't really seem to be one of them.

Posted by infrequent | February 1, 2008 3:35 PM
26

@24: OK, I love how the party website doesn't explain this. So, you're not ALLOWED to move around if your candidate hasn't gotten a delegate? I don't get it.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:37 PM
27

@19 - that was then, this is now.

In 2004 we had a 15 percent threshold requirement.

In 2008 there is NO threshold requirement.

But you do have to have enough support to get at least ONE delegate in your precinct. So if you get say 0.45 delegates, you're toast. Switch or get none.

There's a long complicated explanation of this, and the math ain't fun, but it's basically how do we make INTEGERS from FLOATING POINT FRACTIONAL NUMBERS in a fair way.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 3:37 PM
28

I agree, kids are allowed.

But if they like to whine, cry and bite your neighbors, the caucus chair may make you take them away.

Kind of like any diner, really.

Bring something for them to do. Remind them it's like voting.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 3:42 PM
29

@13 - of course, if you're Jewish, Muslim, 7th Day Adventist, or Pastafarian, it's a Holy Day, so you can always request a ballot that permits you to vote without being present. At the State Dems website (the GOP may have one too).

Gee, maybe you decided to convert for that day, huh?

Now, if you're Pastafarian, you can work but not vote on Holy Days, but I think Jedis can vote but not work, it's all too confusing.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 3:46 PM
30

As usual Will In Seattle does not know what he is talking about. The primary vote is by Secret Ballat so neither party would have any way of knowing who you voted for. They would only know that you did or did not vote. Moreover, any voter has the option to change their mind for any reason.

Posted by Zander | February 1, 2008 3:49 PM
31

@24 & 27: Can you please cite your no-more-15% source? I know you're probably getting it from your district, but I'm reading the 2008 WA Delegate Selection Plan (DNC Approved Final) from the wa-democrats website, and the 15% rules seem to still apply (p. 17-18).

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:55 PM
32

@30: Whom you cast a vote for is secret; which party you chose is not.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 3:57 PM
33

Annie - I'll admit I haven't read the state rules, but I got this no 15% viability threshold from the 36th District Dems Caucus training meeting I went to two weeks ago.

It stuck out, and I asked about it, becuase it's such a big change from 2004.

I don't think it means that there is no moving about - unless the person running your caucus is a real stickler - but from my understanding - you actually sign in with the name of who you're caucusing for, and if you change your mind after the speakers present for each candidate, you actually have to change your choice ON THE PAPER in addition to acutally moving your body to that persons corner.

The math is then computed and delegate allocations are assigned.

This is what pissed me off. If your at a place with say, 87 people caucusing in your precinct, and you have some weird breakout like 35 Obama, 25 Clinton, 13 Uncommited, and 14 for Gravel you do the math and then get assigned delegates. IF those uncommited or Gravel folks don't mathematically achieve a delegate, I don't think they technically have a chance to move to another group. They just don't get a delegate.

Posted by el ganador | February 1, 2008 4:12 PM
34

here's maybe a dumb question - if i'm registered as "independent", can i still go and caucus?

sorry if this has been answered somewhere already.

Posted by john | February 1, 2008 4:15 PM
35

OK -I'm reading the FAQ Wa Dems site, and this sort of answers my concern:

#12 Will I have a chance to change my vote during the Caucus? Yes, there is time to change your vote during the Caucus process.

But it makes no mention of the viability rule.

Posted by el ganador | February 1, 2008 4:15 PM
36

@34: Yes, you can participate. You do have to sign an oath saying you consider yourself a Democrat (or that you are "a member of the Republican party"), but it doesn't change your actual affiliation.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 4:17 PM
37

@34: you're not registered as anything - there is no registration by party in WA State. You're simply a registered voter.

You sign a pledge when you go to the caucus saying you are a Democrat or Republican for the purpose of that meeting...

Posted by el ganador | February 1, 2008 4:18 PM
38

Annie,

FWIW, Wikipedia (I know) says "(The exception is Washington, whose delegate selection plan does not include thresholds at the precinct level.)"

Posted by Mike of Renton | February 1, 2008 4:27 PM
39

OK, everybody who's wondering about 15%: We're contacting the party and will have a clear answer for you early next week.

Posted by annie | February 1, 2008 4:30 PM
40

OK, here's how it works.

There is NOT a 15% threshold at the precinct level. This is new, and the intent of the person who pushed for the change (a friend of mine) was to avoid turning off people at the first step of the process and souring them on the whole experience for something that makes little difference in the final result. He's a mathematician, though, so his explanation has a lot more numbers.

There IS still a 15% threshold at every other level of the process. Candidates are selected later on in the year at legislative district and Congressional district levels from those selected at the precinct level as delegates or alternates, and again at the state convention for seating at the national convention in Denver. There's a separate county convention to discuss the platform (which is also discussed at the state convention.) I'm simplifying things somewhat by not talking about superdelegates and proportional delegates by Congressional district.

However, because of the way fractional delegates are determined, there's still an effective threshold for each precinct that depends upon how many people show up and how many delegates are available in that precinct. Delegate counts are based on the votes for the last Democratic presidential candidate in each precinct. So if your precinct has 5 delegates like mine does, any candidate with 20% or more of the votes in a precinct is viable. Because of fractions there's usually at least one delegate unassigned because the remaining voters don't add up to 20%. Those delegates are assigned to candidates in the order of their fractional support.

At the precinct caucus, you announce your first choice, then the math is done. Then people have an opportunity to switch, which involves no small amount of bickering and horse-trading. Then a final tally is taken, each candidate group chooses its delegates and an equal number of alternates, weighing them according to gender, and their names and info are recorded. Then you go home, and if you were selected as a delegate or alternate you go on to the next level at the legislative district and county conventions.

The formula, for those who are curious is [(# of votes for a specific candidate) divided by (# of total voters in the precinct)]*[number of delegates per precinct]. Every whole number in the result represents a delegates, and remaining delegates are assigned in order of the largest remaining fraction. This math can cause big swings when only one or two people switch candidates. It's amazing to see in action. I've been a delegate for Dukakis, Jerry Brown, and Howard Dean.

Posted by Cascadian | February 1, 2008 4:54 PM
41

By the way, for a detailed explanation of what was wrong with the 15% threshold, see wrog's Washblog post from April at http://www.washblog.com/story/2007/4/9/6711/54421.

Posted by Cascadian | February 1, 2008 4:58 PM
42

@30 - if you read the ballot, you find the Primary Ballot information will be provided to the parties - so they know if you vote Dem or GOP and your name address voter info. They don't know your actual vote for which candidate, except at the aggregate precinct level.

In my precinct there are 6 Repubs, so that makes it pretty easy to figure out, mind you.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 5:03 PM
43

@40 - see, I told you it was boring.

The point is - for the person who shows up to VOTE Saturday Feb. 9th at the Caucus (the only place delegates are elected if a Dem) - there is no 15 pct threshold.

And, if you don't have enough people in your precinct to get a delegate, you either switch or waste your vote. Now, in Seattle, the average precinct gets 4 to 9 delegates, so it's not difficult. Delegates are based on how many people in your precinct voted for the Dem Presidential candidate in 2004 - so if you live in a Dark Red Bushie precinct you get fewer votes than in a Dark Blue Dem precinct. But there's probably more of you ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 1, 2008 5:08 PM
44

here's an option to consider too, when voting using your absentee ballot (or at the polls) YOU CAN OPT TO LEAVE THE BALLOT BLANK - that way you DON'T have to CHECK A PARTY-WRITTEN OATH, just the "OATH OF VOTER" (which pretty much says you are saying you are who the ballot envelope says you are - i.e. legally able to vote and registered to vote)

...that way when the ballot gets returned to King County Elections (i am a KCE employee, yet i do not in any way shape or form mean to imply here that i am speaking for or on behalf of the County/Division/Department) your voting record will reflect that you DID vote in this election, but if enough of the D-voting public did this it might just be a nice, simple way to send a message of 'this is a screwy way of choosing a candidate' to them...

annie - are you planning on posting the contents of the insert that came with your absentee ballot? the one that compares the 19 feb presidential primary with the 19 august pick-a-party primary? i think it's a helpful half sheet of information.

Posted by jezbian | February 1, 2008 6:50 PM
45

in my post above add it should read:

"that way you DON'T have to CHECK A PARTY-WRITTEN OATH, just SIGN the "OATH OF VOTER"

...

Posted by jezbian | February 1, 2008 6:52 PM
46

are there any locations to drop the primary ballot off, instead of mailing it?

Posted by hitbyambulance | February 1, 2008 10:21 PM
47

@46 - any polling place on 19 feb. between 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

you can also drop it off (if you're in the area) at KCE headquarters, which (as of Dec 07) is (unfortunately) now located in Renton, on SW Grady Way, during open business hours, which are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

if you don't know where polling locations are in the area where you'll be on 19 Feb, i might be able to assist you with a few names.

Posted by jezbian | February 2, 2008 8:24 AM
48

Jesus Christ on a stick. Could they make this *any* more confusing?

a) the website sucks
b) the system sucks
c) suck

I cannot believe our state continues to use this arcane method of delegate selection. Can we please make the primary count so I can vote with my absentee ballot from the comfort of my home?

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | February 2, 2008 11:09 AM
49

@48: NO FUCKING KIDDING! My god...it's completely non-user friendly.

And frankly, I don't want some hippy kvetching at me through his patchouli cloud that I should vote for another candidate than the one I prefer. I'm secure in why I want my candidate -- I don't want to be put in ANY kind of situation while I vote that requires me to dialogue with someone about WHY. Believe it or not, I will have had that kind of dialogue with myself -- and trusted friends -- long before I walk into the caucus location.

Ugh. I'm probably not even going to go, and my site is two minutes from my house.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | February 2, 2008 1:37 PM
50

Question: Why reinforce stupidity with the phrase 'divy up' is 'divide' such a complex mathy word that it must be dumbed down?

Posted by arandomdude | February 2, 2008 1:42 PM
51

We should junk the primary system, the only reason we have it is because the Republicans shit themselves in 1988 after the wingnuts picked Pat Robertson as their party's candidate. But the caucus system isn't any better.


I think that the state needs to get itself out of the business of legitimizing beauty contests for the Democratic and Republican parties. We should replace all of the primary and caucus nonsense with a simple system where in order for a candidate to get on the ballot for a political office they have to gather signatures equal to 15 percent of the registered voters in their district, not just the people who turned out in the last presidential election, but 15 percent of all of the registered voters. For statewide offices it would be 15 percent of the voters in the state.


For presidential elections the law could state that the candidates could not register and gather signatures before the first Monday after New Year's Day in January and that they had until the last Friday in March to collect the requisite signatures.


Candidates who gathered the requisite number of signatures but then wished to be removed from the ballot would have until one week before absentee ballots for the general election are mailed to withdraw from the race.


While we're at it we should completely eliminate any mention of political party and/or partisan affiliation on the ballot. If you're too uninformed to know the political affiliation of a candidate before you fill out your absentee ballot or head to the voting booth then you probably shouldn't be voting anyways. Also it's not the government's job to tout a candidate's political affiliation, even in so minor a matter as identifying their party on the ballot.


The political parties won't like this but fuck the political parties. The ugly truth that the Democrats and Republicans hate to talk about is that America does not have a two party system because it is somehow the natural order of things, which is what the parties always imply, it's because the parties have used the law to create a duopoly that they are very comfortable with. The parties should be stripped of the quasi-official status as gatekeepers that the current system gives them and have no more voice in the political selection process than any other group of private citizens.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | February 2, 2008 8:28 PM
52

@20: Hi, Mom. The dirty secret of the caucus system is this: once you have signed in and written in the name of your preferred candidate, you have voted. If you don't want to switch your vote (i.e. if you're backing Clinton or Obama) and you have no interest in serving as a delegate to the county convention, you can just go home and your vote counts. Ten minutes, tops.

Of course, a precinct's Obama or Clinton supporters might run out of people to serve as delegates if everyone does this, but single parents should feel free to take their squalling baby/chattering toddler home and let the other grownups caucus in peace.

@28: "Our state" does not use the caucus system. It's a creation of and a tool of the political party and is based on the legally accepted theory that political parties are private organizations with the right to choose their own nominees (rather than recognize the results of a state-funded election). Deal with it.

Posted by J.R. | February 3, 2008 9:33 AM
53

I was appalled to find out the primary doesn't count when I read it in fine print in the voter's pamphlet. Thanks for reporting this, Annie. You'd think the mainstream media MIGHT find this information newsworthy. Guess not.

Posted by Hilary | February 4, 2008 11:43 AM
54

As a 46-year-old non-citizen big kid, can I attend with a friend, just to observe?

Posted by rocket | February 4, 2008 8:50 PM
55

@32 how can the state know which party you have voted for when the primary ballot has both parties on it and there is no way to trace the ballot back to you?

Posted by passionateJus | February 5, 2008 12:58 AM
56

As I read the insert with the mail in ballot carefully, the party determination you make on this determines how you can vote on Aug 19. Therefore, if you have selected the Reb or Dem party, it prevents you from going independent on Aug 19 in the event you donít like the candidates chosen at the political conventions in July. Sure you can vote independent in Nov but you will have had no ability to influence who is on the ballot as an independent. (or, is there yet another primary in Sept?)This could be crucial if the Gov of NY or someone else runs as an independent but canít get on the ballot because of the way the Reb & Dem parties have set up the voting procedures in the primaries. Is this correct or have I missed something?

Posted by Perry | February 5, 2008 8:51 AM
57

No viability threshold at precinct caucuses - here's the Delegate Selection Plan governing document (pdf)

And here's the governing provision III.F.6:

Each presidential preference, which receives 15% or more of the votes cast at a meeting, (except at the precinct caucus level where no threshold is required) shall receive his or her share of the delegates allotted. ...

Posted by RonK, Seattle | February 5, 2008 2:40 PM
58

Other nit-picks:

The article certainly should mention to option of participating by affidavit for voters who can't attend for religious, military service or disability reasons.

The article should certainly not tell Edwards voters where to go. Edwards voters can still vote for Edwards, Kodos voters can still vote for Kodos. Ron Paul, RuPaul, whatever - express your true feelings on sign-in. You can always realign.

[Edwards hasn't even dropped out, just "suspended". And as far as the caucus goes, there's no such thing as being "on the ballot". There's no requirement that your favorite be running - or alive - or human - or nonfictional.]

"Uncommitted" is a live option too, and a preferred option in many situations. Historically, "uncommitted" has won whole states.

If you don't get to be a delegate to the next level, you can probably be an alternate. If you're an alternate, you have pretty decent chances of being seated at L.D. caucuses (all day April 5, by which time the nomination may already have been settled)

Posted by RonK, Seattle | February 5, 2008 3:00 PM
59

How long does this process take?

Posted by JHinWA | February 6, 2008 10:40 AM
60

"Tell your friend Potus he has a funny name."

Posted by Potus in a bicycle accident | February 6, 2008 1:01 PM
61

Screw this. I'm moving to France.

Posted by OhBrother | February 6, 2008 1:02 PM
62

@55 - nobody will know exactly how you vote in the primary if you choose to do so, unless you tell them - your vote will be secret, don't worry. what is public record is whether you voted, and which box on the voter log book you checked at the polling places (or checked on the outside of your absentee envelope). i imagine the parties will be getting that information to check against their caucus attendance lists, but will they do anything with it? i'm not a party person so i don't know.

so you could go to the caucus on saturday, where you will sign your name and your candidate preference (question - does anyone know if your choice at the caucus is public record?). then you could go to the primary and check the box for the same party you caucused with, take your ballot into the voting booth and pick someone from the opposite party.

this is legally speaking breaking two oaths - one at the caucus, one at the polling place, but since the ballots are untraceable nobody will know that you did this. the discrepancy will be public, but the identities of the person(s) won't be known.

what i'm not sure about is if you went to your democratic caucus and voted for Kucinich, then went to the primary and checked the republican box, would the democratic party then remove your vote for Kucinich and possibly reconfigure the delegates? any democratic party people out there know?

also, there are 3 boxes to check this primary: democratic, republican, or ballot measures only. if you check ballot measures only, and there aren't any ballot measures, you'll be told to just cast a blank ballot at the polls.

Posted by feb 19th poll worker | February 7, 2008 10:00 PM
63

@56 - you can check whatever box you want this time if you vote in the primary and it will not affect how you can vote in any future election - king county will only be retaining the party oath choices (or lack of) for 90 days. so you could vote a democratic ticket this time and republican next time and vice versa.

however, from now on in primary elections with democratic and republican candidates you will need to sign oaths and only vote for candidates in one party or the other - you can thank the democratic and republican parties for taking the state to court to get the primary done that way. if you try to vote for candidates from more than one party your ballot will not get counted.

just to be clear, though, there will be no other primary for presidential candidates in Washington this year, so you can't change who the parties nominate this summer; the august primary will be for state, county and local elections.

if it makes you feel any better, most (if not all) independent candidates get on the ballot through other means - usually a combination of signatures from registered voters and/or fees. there's usually ten or so candidates from small parties or independents every presidential election. so if you're a big fan of ron paul, and he decides to run as an independent (or libertarian) candidate for president, you could help get signatures and get him on the ballot for november if you want.

Posted by feb 19th poll worker | February 7, 2008 10:15 PM

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