Over a week ago Colorado conducted precinct caucuses throughout the state. In off Presidential years, we are lucky to get six people attending our precinct in Erie, Colorado on the Weld County side.
At the last caucus I went to, I was the only person attending mine.
On March 1, over 300 people showed up at the Erie High School cafeteria to caucus for their Presidential preference. Over twenty had to be turned away because they were not registered as a Democrat. As one young man said, "I have always voted for the Democrat." True in the general election where anyone can vote, but he had never changed his registration.
Another thirteen people signed affirmation forms which gave them a chance to participate in their precinct until such time as their addresses could be verified.
Some of these first time voters will become more active party volunteers and maybe even candidates. That is the good part about caucuses. It is part of the community building that is political democracy. And we love it. A number of the attendees are in classes with me at the local recreation center, and this night is a further bonding of relationships.
But for the mothers who had to leave because their children were with them and had homework to do. Or the dad who came too late to vote because he was babysitting until his wife came home. Or the numbers of people who were at work and couldn't attend, caucuses do not work.
The process went fairly well and was nothing like the stories that we have heard in Arapahoe, Jefferson, Boulder and Denver Counties. We got the lines through by 7:00 PM, thanks to all the volunteers, and we got the votes into the state easily.
The Colorado Republican Party didn't even hold Presidential preferences. One excuse was they didn't want attract a lot of non-activists to the meetings.
That is what happens in caucuses. People get excited about a candidate and show up to vote for them. As a result, the most fired-up people will skew the vote in a direction that does not always mirror the general attitude of the state.
It is time for Colorado to go back to the Presidential Primary. Rick Palacio, Colorado Democratic Party Chair, has been public about the need for this shift. And U.S. Representative Jared Polis is circulating a petition right now to make that happen.
We want the voters to participate. Then let's make it easy for them to do so.