02 January 2008

Oh, Iowa

Caucuses Empower Only Some Iowans

This story is fitting, since I am probably going down to Iowa tonight to volunteer.

Because the caucuses, held in the early evening, do not allow absentee voting, they tend to leave out nearly entire categories of voters: the infirm, soldiers on active duty, medical personnel who cannot leave their patients, parents who do not have baby sitters, restaurant employees on the dinner shift, and many others who work in retail, at gas stations and in other jobs that require evening duty.

I've caucused in my home state of Minnesota before and I went plenty of times as a child with my parents. Its an interesting process if you're old enough to understand whats going on. If you're not, its really fun to run wild in the halls of whatever school its being held in with all the other children. Plus you get stickers.

But its not fun if you're the parent of said child running wild. Thats if you get to go at all. People have long known that the people that vote in the primaries are the people that really care about this sort of thing. That goes double for something as intense and time consuming as a caucus.

As in years past, voters must present themselves in person, at a specified hour, and stay for as long as two. And if these caucuses are anything like prior ones, only a tiny percentage of Iowans will participate.

Its not a quick process and its not something that I think I could explain to any of you in a post. There is a lot of running around talking to the people near you and getting them to support your group of people on an issue or a politician. There is a certain number of people that need to get together in order to send a person to the next level and then the next level meets to decide who will go to the next level and what they will support. If I'm not explaining it well I wouldn't be the first or the last.

“There is no incentive for Iowa to change this at all,” said Mr. Issacharoff, of N.Y.U. “It corresponds to what Iowa wants, which is candidates spending time and resources in Iowa,” in order to win supporters dedicated enough to conquer the obstacles to voting.

This could be said about any of the early primary states. Its not in the people's own self interest that the state wait to vote. The earlier they vote the more their voice counts for. Its not fair to the other states and ideas about changing the entire primary system have been floating around for awhile. But I think it would take someone from the outside, promoting something truly equal for everyone to change the primary system.

If I don't post tomorrow, it means my friends and I decided to go and I'll post on Friday.

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