Was that really a caucus? Look, I didn’t have any grand illusions that it would be professionally organized; I know these people are volunteers, most first timers. And we have already seen how this election has brought the Democrats out in force. On top of that, certain areas here on Hawai’i Island have grown during that last housing boom (some spots experiencing population growth of over 8x since just 1990) – so one could only imagine this year it’d be a little more crowded. But one might also assume there would be a proportionate increase in caucus locations… not so much….
<one volunteer explains, “tink they got da pakalolo over dair”>
My polling place was packed. Considering past presidential caucuses in the whole state of Hawai’i haven’t exceeded 5,000 voters, and though optimistic reports were anticipating maybe 12,000, I was kinda shocked when (by my estimates) there were at least 500 at our caucus location alone (okay a few were kids and dogs, but still)! (note: I just found out, over 1000 people voted there!) It was absolutely amazing; hundreds of people coming and going.
So, in the parking lot, I asked some of those exiting early why they were leaving already, worried it was because it was chaotic or the lines were too long (it was 6:15pm at that point). “We already voted. Yeah, it was easy, just registered and voted.” “Oh, wow,” I responded, ’cause as much as the process pre-internet, pre-tv must have been worthwhile, like a town hall meeting kinda thing, I don’t understand the purpose of a caucus unless it’s to confuse a lot of people. I just don’t get why these things are not all run as primaries. I’m okay researching on my own, and frankly didn’t mind walking in, voting and going home for dinner.
Upon entering the outside courtyard of the local community center, I pass an angry man tearing up a messily scribbled yellow sign for a precinct that usually votes at a church. “No, no, no,” the man yelled at the cringing ladies manning the table, “don’t write the regular voting place on these!” I had been looking at these little yellow cards on the tables designating one’s precinct (luckily I already knew my precinct number, because having to figure it out there would have meant a whole different line to wait in), but there were tables and people everywhere and I was having no luck finding my precinct. So, during a pause, I asked the angry man if he knew where I needed to go, and, after turning around and yelling some more, he turned back to inform me that my table was inside (wow, even more tables?!). As I slowly made my way through the crowd, someone rushed passed me yelling, “Who has a stack of registration cards? Does anyone have a stack of registration cards?” The question followed me into the building, and I just had to hope my table had all the proper forms.
Lucky for me, by the time I found my precinct, it was much less crowded than the other tables. There I found yet another grumpy man yelling at female volunteers. But, unlike the precincts that allowed people to vote early, my guy dramatically exclaimed to all within ear-range, “No! You can’t vote ’til after 7. We’re not even supposed to be open right now!” I signed in, registered as a voter, registered as a Democrat (am I going to regret that?), and was given my ballot. It only took 10 minutes, but I had to wait to turn in my vote.
So, ballot in hand, I went outside. I looked at this scrap of paper -Clinton listed first- and wondered, what the heck was keeping someone from running to the copy place, making copies, and turning an extra many in? I would have had 30 minutes to do such a thing. And, though my guy did ask me if I was signed up before he allowed me to put my ballot into the envelope, it wasn’t much security. Most of the other tables just held the envelope out and let whomever (from their precinct) place their vote inside. By the time I left at 7:30pm the caucus was still bustling with people, with even more just arriving.
<Smiling volunteers take paper ballots from voters>
Despite typical corruption that Hawai’i residents have grown to know and love, no one seemed to be working any underhanded maneuvers. No one was locked out early – the doors were never even locked. No Clintonians grabbed disabled people and pulled them over to their table. No Obamaniacs recited plagiarized words without due credit. I have no idea if there was even much “caucusing” being done at all at our Presidential Poll – it was kinda closer to a chat with neighbors, talk story, a party without the beer (we drank ours outside). Maybe people didn’t want to debate it anymore, most seemed to want to agree. Certainly most people arrived with their minds made up. I did meet one girl who said she was kinda disappointed, that she came with an open mind, that she wasn’t certain for whom she was voting. So I took her in the back room and attempted to brainwash her with rhetoric and applause lines. Her friends were voting for Clinton though, so it may not have worked. So much for corruption.
Now Oahu… well, that’s another story. You’ll have to ask the real people who run Hawai’i about that.
* * * * *
Caucus results – 100% precincts reporting:
Congressional District One: total votes: 15,550
Barack Obama 11,536 74.19%
Hillary Clinton 3,925 25.24%
Congressional District Two: total votes: 21,876
Barack Obama 16,811 76.85%
Hillary Clinton 4,910 22.44%
* * * * *
Absolutely amazing numbers! So, now we’ll have to keep an eye on Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Senator and Superdelegate, who promised his vote to Clinton. As well as Senator Akaka and Rep. Mazie Hirono who have remained undecided. If the Superdelegates decide this election…. Write to them and give them your opinion!