Texas, We Have a Problem!
Election Day Madness
March 4, 2008 was supposed to be a glorious day for Texas democrats. The Texas primary, long a yawner when it came to presidential politics because the presumptive winner is typically chosen well before the campaigns hit Texas, was in the spotlight as possibly the one that would turn it one way or the other for the closely contested race between the two leading democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. For the first time in decades the democratic party is fielding two candidates, both of whom are considered presidential material and both considered a slight favorite to beat the republican opponent. This was going to be an exciting day in Texas democratic politics.
But the dream turned into a nightmare. Not because the votes went one way or the other, but because the process was, to put it politely, so very frustrating. How do I tell thee, let me count the ways.
First, lets say you went to the polling place near your house where they held early voting only to find out that it was not an election day polling place. What?!!! That’s right. Not all early-voting locations were election day voting locations.
Second, when you arrived at an actual election day voting location you noticed there were long lines on the democratic side of the room and no lines, and typically no voters, on the republican side. Then you also noticed that the republican side had more voting machines, all quite lonely, than the democratic side. What?!!! What’s that about? Was it poor planning or is it that each party owns their own machines and won’t lend or lease them to the other side? Certainly those in charge could have foreseen that with the republican presidential candidate all but locked in to the nomination there would be a very low turnout on the republican side and with the race on the democratic side so close that there would be a high turnout. Right?
Third, after your long wait and it was your turn to sign in you were told that you should come back after the polls close to vote again. What?!!! That’s right. It seems this presidential primary was actually just window dressing. It’s called a caucus and it takes place during the precinct convention at 7:15pm or after the last person votes. I was told by a democratic party official that this scheme was initiated in the 70’s as a way for party insiders to gain more control over the outcome of elections. So if you didn’t come back to caucus you didn’t really vote for the presidential candidate of your choice. Well, sort of. 126 delegates were awarded based upon the popular vote of which Clinton won 65. However, another 67 delegates are still in the process of being awarded based upon those caucuses. Per the Dallas Morning News, Obama could win as many as 37 of those. So, all those reports of Hillary Clinton winning Texas are very premature until all the caucus votes are counted and delegates proportionally assigned and counted. Even then, the delegates only count if they actually show up at the next step in the process, the state senatorial district conventions on March 29. The actual number may not be know until the state convention in June.
Fourth, with these very long lines that formed after people got off work there were reports of voting not finishing until 1:00am!!! Yes, that’s one o'clock in the morning of the next day. With TAKS testing in many schools the next day you had some angry parents and some very tired students.
Fifth, with so many people voting and this race being so close and passions running high to boot out those that have gotten us into the various messes we are in as a nation, there was a huge turnout for the caucuses. So, signing in and voting took a very long time as well. There were shortages of voting forms, election officials, and in some cases expertise as to how this was all supposed to work. Tempers flared in many places but I have yet to hear of any actual punches being thrown. That’s good, because I’d hate to think that the party that wants to end the war in Iraq would start one at its own caucus.
Sixth, with it being so late and everyone wanting to get the heck out of there, many people did not stay after caucus voting and missed out on the selection of delegates and the presentation of resolutions for the party platform. I’m sure most that left didn’t mind missing out on all that.
Seventh, with it being so late the number of resolutions presented were cut short. It was that or risk the breaking out of fisticuffs again. It was time to go home!
Eighth, and lastly, there have been reports that many republicans voted in the democratic primary. What?!!! That’s right. Everyone could have voted in either primary. That’s the way it is in Texas. So it seems that the republicans had a plan that if enough of them voted for Hillary Clinton that she would win not only Texas but the democratic nomination. Why on earth would republicans want Hillary Clinton to win? Because there is such hatred for anything named Clinton on the republican side that they view her as the unifying force that the republicans need to get out the vote in November for their nominee, John McCain. But it doesn’t seem that this worked because they didn’t bother to come back for the caucuses. Reports are showing Barack Obama with a healthy lead in the delegate count coming out of the caucuses. Not only that but now those republicans who voted in the democratic primary cannot vote in any republican runoffs that will take place for positions where nobody got a majority of the votes.
Wow, what a great state this is. Think of how great it would be if we actually had democracy!