Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Caucus Voting

As I've mentioned, because I'm a designated Temporary Precinct Chair, I've been asked to vote in advance of the caucus so that I don't betray my own personal preferences during the administrative business of our precinct's caucus this weekend. By voting early using a preferential ballot, my vote will count even though I personally won't be standing with any of the preference groups until after the final preferences are determined and our precinct selects our delegates to the county convention.

Nevada is, as far as I know, the first state using a caucus that is also allowing people to express their preferences in advance, by voting for at least three but not more than five candidates on an instant-runoff ballot. While it does handle redistribution of preferences out of non-viable (<15% of total votes) candidates, it does leave out the theoretical element of caucus members persuading others in person to vote with their group. However, four years ago, there was essentially no individual persuasion happening at the caucus I attended, although that might have been because there were substantially only two candidates, whereas this time the field is more fragmented.

Voting Queue

The advance voting station at the library (run entirely by Democratic party volunteers, with no government money) opened at 10 AM. When I arrived around 11:30, the queue was out the door and getting longer. It took a bit more than an hour to get to the front of the queue. Voting itself took only a few minutes. I don't need to be told how to fill out an IRV ballot.

I did try to explain to people in line around me how to look at the ballot if they were confused. My normal explanation is "Vote your first preference for the candidate you want to win. Now pretend they aren't on the ballot: who would you then choose? Mark them second. Now do it again (and again and again). The people around me seemed to follow that.

Voting was not done on a computer. The ballots are paper only. It looks to me like they should be able to count them using some sort of optical scanner, but it's also perfectly possible to count them by hand if necessary. The only computers present were four iPads loaded with the voter registration database, used to confirm voters' eligibility. Voters were not required to show photo ID, just provide their name and address where they were registered. I showed them my business card not as ID, but because my last name is so hard to spell.

The voter-eligiblity check-in process is what slowed down the process. It took several minutes to type the necessary information to check off each voter, and there weren't that many stations. (Fernley is small. Big-city voting locations are open all four days, not just today, and have many more iPads.)

If you aren't on the voter rolls, you're allowed to do same-day registration; if that is required, you get shunted to the side to fill out the voter-registration paperwork.

Voting Queue

Personally, I didn't mind there being maybe 30 people in line before me. It really annoyed me hearing Republican partisans saying online things like, "The only people in line will be three or four homeless people" and otherwise implying that there are no Democrats here. Well, Lyon County reports that 20% of the county's residents are registered as Democrats, which (assuming even distribution, which is unlikely), around 4,000 people are registered Democratic in Fernley.

There were slightly fewer people in line when I left than when I arrived. I forgot to go back over to the polls at 5 PM to find out how many people were still left to vote. Anyone in line at 5 PM would still be allowed to vote, but anyone arriving later needs to go to the in-person caucus on Saturday. I still haven't received final instructions for how the in-person caucus will work and what the Temporary Precinct Chairs will do to manage our precincts.

I found it very reassuring to have other Democrats around me. If you went solely on the online crowd, you'd think that every single person in Fernley was a Republican, and people like me — and it's an article of faith among these people that every single person from Californicate lives in San Fran and is a communist who never did a lick of work in their life — should just go back to California and let Real Murikens get on with crowning King Donald as President for Life and Beyond. And of course, everyone in California is a welfare cheat and there's no money there at all (no, it doesn't have to make sense). Some of them were posting messages telling people to "write in Trump!" and didn't seem happy to know that there is no provision for write-in candidates in a caucus. You either have to choose a candidate or Uncommitted.

It was good to be around people who haven't drank Dear Leader's Kool-Aid.

By the way, with lots of time to talk, I spoke with some of the other people in line around me. By coincidence, the woman behind me had attended the 2011 Worldcon in Reno. But she didn't know it was a "Worldcon." She only knew it by "Renovation" and didn't connect that it was the World Science Fiction Convention. This is more proof to me that Worldcons should stop marketing nicknames and should call themselves "Worldcon."
Tags: caucus, election, politics, worldcon

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