Wednesday, February 06, 2008

You Could Say I Lost My Faith in Science and Progress

Remember that time I went to the Kansas caucus and stood outside in freezing temperatures forever?


You don't?

Well, go grab a cup of coffee and I'LL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT.

The Kansas Democratic caucus was last night. Now, from what I can tell the caucus is an old-school way of voting. You don't really vote but your presence gets counted and the delegates get determined based on your presence. Or some shit like that.

Now, that caucus was to begin at 7 p.m. The doors to the caucus opened at 6 p.m.

My friend, Kristi, and I were to attend the same caucusing location so we decided she's pick me up. We found a parking spot at 6:15 p.m.

Google maps measured and said we parked a quarter mile from the caucusing location.

It was freezing, well below 32 degrees fahrenheit and pretty damn windy. Kristi and I, along with her seven year old son, walked from the car to the caucusing location.

But the line, THE LINE. By the time we got to our place in line, at 6:20, we were here:

It was DAMN COLD. But we were talking to people around us, telling my friend's son how we were surrounded by Democrats and It Is Glorious. We watched near-car accidents and watched how the line kept expanding. We estimate well over 1,000 people ahead of us.

At 7 p.m. the caucusing people stopped allowing people to get in line. We estimate over 3,000 people in line to caucus. Here's where we are:

Sometime around 7:30 I became aware that this line is barely fucking moving. It was cold. And windy. With freezing drizzle.

This is also the point with the belligerent asshole starts acting crazy. Now, when you have a group of people this big, there's always gonna be a belligerent asshole and it's my role in the Universe to somehow always be next to him (or her). He begins screaming, "Don't think you've been to a caucus" and "This is not a democracy!" and "Ever been to a caucus breakfast?" For the rest of our time in line, he never shuts up.

Around 7:45 they began to offer some people to go inside another building to warm up. Kristi and I take turns taking her son inside.

Sometime around 8pm people began to tell us what! a! good! job! we're! doing! And how every! vote! will! count!

At 8:15 they started to tell us the results of our polling. Remember -- at this point I've been standing outside for nearly two hours. The first batch was Obama 150, Hillary 80. The second batch was Obama 105, Hillary 37. The third batch of 50 people was being let in.

Holy fucking shit. We've been standing outside for two hours and only 372 out of well over 3,000 have been allowed to caucus?

Then it comes to light that they only expected 200 to 300 people. They don't have their shit together AND they are taking smaller batches in for caucusing.

I call Aaron (again, I had been calling every 30 minutes or so) and he says his mom (in Michigan) heard the announcement that Obama has taken Kansas in a landslide. He looked it up and Obama is winning but no official announcement yet.

Meanwhile, I'm whining to him that I need to get off the phone, when I'm on the phone with you my hands freeze. My toes are numb despite all the fidgeting. my ears hurt. I had on a light jacket and short-sleeved shirt. I'm fucking cold.

8:20 p.m. Over 300 people still ahead of us. They barely let anyone in. And Kristi's son is Officially Losing His Shit. Now, I don't blame him, he has been amazing through this whole thing but the way he loses his shit is similar to the kind of shit-losing when you're suppose to smack someone across their face.

We decided to leave. Finally.

We take about 20 steps away from the line, headed to the car, at it starts sleeting. A down poor. We're walking as fast as we can, ice cubs are ricocheting off my nose. It hurts. The sidewalks are getting slippery. I can't feel my toes.

8:50 p.m. I arrive home after a short jaunt to get Kristi's son some hot cocoa. I'm dripping wet. I was so cold I didn't realize I was wet. I walk in, strip down, get the shower ready. I have red splotches all over my legs, my toes and ears are bright red. I take a warm shower and huddle in bed with five blankets. I can't get warm for hours. By 9:30 Obama takes Kansas with 70-something percent.

Lesson: Well, I wish there was a good one. I really wanted to caucus and I'm disappointed I didn't have the opportunity. It's great the Obama won Kansas with such a large landslide but it's a stab to the heart that my voice wasn't counted. It's a disgrace that this happened, and it wasn't just me and my location either. Over 1,100 people at my location did get the opportunity to caucus. The last one started after 10:30 p.m. Well over 2,000 people left without voting.

And I'm pretty sure that I chillblains on my toes and on my legs. So I'm never standing outside in below freezing temperatures with freezing drizzle ever again.


Anonymous said...

dude, that's intense.

Anonymous said...

I hear that in 2004, fewer than 200 people in our district caucused. But I still think they should have been better prepared this year. They misunderestimated us, big time.

I just hope my son doesn't turn to Republicanism to get back at me. ;)

Green-Eyed Momster said...

It happened in Arizona too. I was supposed to go but didn't go and today's paper read, "Record turnout - and anger - mark election". So, our county is screwed up too! Does that make you feel better? Sorry it was so cold. It's freezing ass here too! Does that make you feel better? Take care!

amy h said...

Man, that sounds worse than ours. Ours would have been that bad had they decided to actually caucus. Instead, we had a half-assed primary, and I had the stroke of luck to be standing next to the table with the precious piece of typing paper where you got to sign for your vote. I'm really surprised our votes even counted.

It's funny how you don't notice that you're getting soaked. I got home and realized my jeans had been dragging on the ground and were wicking up rainwater. Nice.

We didn't have any assholes though, so that's good.

I wish we'd had the same location. I was just standing around, bored, by myself, calling people to whine.

Chickenbells said...

Dang girl...that story made me cold. My mother went yesterday and had to leave and come back...everyone was amazed there was such a high turnout, and kept saying outloud that, "this is very historical!" of course, they'd just drawn some new lines, so I don't think they were near prepared enough to take all the people that showed up. Hillary won here. Honestly though? WHY are they hardly ever prepared? Every time we do the "vote thing" they are NOT prepared...what is it going to take? I would hate to think of people getting frustrated and then walking's so important to be counted. Maybe I should volunteer on election day?

Heidijayhawk said...

my mom worked the caucus in wichita. she said they told her to expect 300 people. that was twice as many as they had during the last caucus. 1800 showed up there. they had 8 people working. shit. she about freaked. who knew. gotta love that kansas was showing the love to barack (or broccoli as amy's little one says)!!!

Angelina said...

I am terrified that the democrats will be too divided between Obama and Hillary to actually make it into office this year which will piss me off beyond belief. So it is good news to hear that at least in some states it's pretty decisive.

So, that sounds like a super miserable evening but I'm proud that you are a fellow caucusing citizen. Oregon doesn't vote until May, why didn't Kansas have the good sense to wait til then?

World Wide Alternative said...

Fair enough I'd say...Xxx

You can call me Betty, or Bethany, or Beth ...Just don't call me late for dinner. said...

I think it is a great sign that so many people are turning out for the primaries. Personally I voted for Obama but the 8th grade girl in me will excitedly cast a vote for the first woman president should she be nominated.

I just think it sucks that apathy is so the norm that "the system isn't prepared for anyone to actually give a shit anymore.

sltbee69 said...

What a clusterfuck! I'm glad my state doesn't caucus. Chillblains? Dude!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was the same in Larryville. Or so I hear. My friends eventually got divered from Abe & Jakes to Libery Hall because A&J's was full to capacity.

I don't know. I was in Topeka drininking margaritas at my mother-in-law's birthday party.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have lasted either.

Really really really hoping you don't have chillblains.

But if anyone would get them...

atet said...

Ugh -- sounds like a mess. Someone there should have been on the ball. Reaffirms my general faith in human beings ablities. (add the sarcasm there) I am happy my state has just a straight primary election...much easier.

Stephanie ODea said...

oh sweetie. I had no idea it was that backwards and horribly organized. I'm so sorry. And so thrilled that you went at all.

Al said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and this post. Holy crap! My bf and I (he's from NY, I am from MA) were marveling at the caucus process and thought that it sounded like a far better way to do things as opposed to the way elections are run in our states. Now that I have read this....maybe not so much? I give you credit for showing up to that mess though, I know so many people up here who didn't vote and they just had to drive to their local high school, fill in a bubble and throw the ballot in the scantron, so the fact that you actually waited in line through all that bullshit amazes me!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You were committed to your caucus. I wouldn't have lasted 30min. I hope all your parts have thawed properly, and thank you for being such a great voter.

Anonymous said...

thank you for getting yourself out there....we're here in kansas was a similar scene...