Advocating for a split decision and a conversation

Dear DNC members,

I am involved in a lot of discussions, and one that is making the rounds right now is a desire to see the DNC open the rules a little and allow a split Primary/Caucus decision for Presidential Primaries similar to the system that Texas uses.  Everyone recognizes the need for the caucus to provide certain aspects of neighborhood organization and activation, but at the same time people are recognizing the limitations that the Party has in trying to enable people to vote.  Too many people have the impression right now that a Primary would solve the problem, and the lack of party registration in this state doesn't seem to diminish their support.

I would like to ask that the DNC bring up the topic of allowing a split decision in more states than just Texas in an open forum.  Perhaps a roving series of meetings where the public, both insider activists and the general public, are brought in to voice our opinions on what the best method would be for selecting a Presidential nominee.  I'm desperately hoping that the intense engagement of so many people in this year's contest will not disappear after this November, and I think a community discussion would help continue the momentum.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue, and I look forward to working with you over the next 4 years.

Chad Lupkes
Chair, Washington State Progressive Caucus



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I realize that I am pretty vociferous about needing party registration, but I would be fine if the State made people sign on the dotted line for a single party per each and every partisan primary - I'd like to include non-presidential primaries. as well.  In effect it mirrors party registration, change of registration but porcedurally it's done when voting and not by registering to vote.  

I heard an idea of having a much longer sign in period for precinct caucuses so folks could have more flexibility.  As at least half of the folks in my precinct left after they signed in, this might help.  I got a LOT of negative feedback about the caucuses from people who had a hard time being in the crowd, refused to be there or had to work.  Actually, it was much sweeter than it sounds, elderly or folks with children asking me, "Since you are a PCO, can you see if maybe the Party would be willing to figure something out?"

However, and with a split system as well, the selection process of delegates becomes an issue.  Do we still have precinct caucuses?  Wait until the CD Caucus (New Hampshire)?  Candidate caucuses in LDs (California) with the problem that only people still running end up getting delegates?  Party leaders pick 'em?  Possible delegates on the ballot (Illinois)?

by ktkeller on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 08:21:37 PM PST

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--would solve this problem.  Combine it with preregistration and that would solve a lot of the data tablulation hassle.  Maine already does this, but they have registration by party also.

With absentee caucusing, the party still owns all the data, as opposed to turning it over to private corporations which claim ownership of all the computer data.

by eridani on Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 11:37:59 AM PST

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-of the data. There are plenty of IT corporations that handle valuable, private data that their clients would CERTAINLY never let them claim.

And many states have laws that voter data can only be used by some kinds of political, academic and non-profit entities.

The parties are actually under fewer restrictions than the states in terms of using the data.


by dlaw on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 09:24:51 PM PST

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on this topic, and I'm finding some here. By that I mean dealing with "the fact on the ground," rather than what we would like or wish were true. We wish we had party registration, but we don't, and our Grange populist tradition prevents it. People raised here think about party registratration as,"I don't have to and I won't."

We aren't going to get the DNC to change its position that there won't be any more Texas two-step primaries with a caucus. It's grandfathered and that's it.

We have to choose between a caucus and a primary.

Both have good features. The good things about a primary are that anyone can participate at their convenience, and the County elections officials set it up and count it. It's taxpayer supported.

The good things about a caucus are:
--We do not have party registration and depend on the caucuses for this data, phone and email addresses.
--We funded our operations and campaign activities for 2008 through caucus donations.
--We recruited hundreds of new PCOs and thousands of members statewide.
--We registered and changed addresses of thousands of our voters, by inviting people to come whether or not they are registered.
--More independents will actually identify themselves as Democrats than if they ahd just blackened a circle.
--We literally activated people by getting them out to the caucuses; they are more likely to get involved in the 2008 campaign.
--We actually engaged in respectful political conversations with our immediate neighbors, and promoted a sense of community and shared purpose.
--Most people who participated were energized and enthusiastic about their caucus experience.
--Enthusiastic grassroots participants actually have a reasonable chance to get elected at national convention delegates.
--Last, this was not a public vote; a caucus is an assembly of local Democrats to select those who will represent us, as is our right under the First Amendment.  This is as precious a constitutional right as any other.

Paying for the caucus sites from noon to 3 p.m. was very expensive. We couldn't afford to open the sites earlier in the day.

Nor do we have any paid staff that could count absentee votes. I was proud that our volunteers figured out how to report their results in a very timely and organized way, unlike the Republicans, who didn't train their people well enough to know that they had to actually report their delegate counts, not just their attendees. That was the cause of Luke Essers embarrassment in the national media.

Given these limitations of constitutional law, party rules, history, culture and funds, and the voluntery nature of our Party, I think you will agree that caucuses are the best way to go--once every four or eight years.

"The arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Sarajane46th on Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 03:51:35 PM PST

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...a party cannot run its own primary. I'm not sure that this is true, particularly if the voting period is extended. The ballots printed would be very simple and the parties could borrow ballot-counting machines from other states if necessary.

But in effect this might be an "absentee for any reason" caucus, which also strikes me as a good idea.

Actually, the Texas system is not so bad, if you think about it. Everyone gets a shot at going to the polls or voting early, but activists (those willing to do the extra step) still get more say and more communications and data-sharing happens.

Also, you could change it a little and use the later caucus to select the delegates and alternates that the earlier part of the system had allocated.

by dlaw on Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 10:06:43 PM PST

* 15 none 0 *

Washington Needs to hold a Presidential Primary is I still beleve a viable way to have both processes under the DNC rules.

Dave Gibney Pullman

by gibney on Sun Mar 09, 2008 at 03:18:42 PM PST

* 17 none 0 *

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