Thursday, January 03, 2008
Hate the Caucus
--Roland S. Martin, 360 Contributor

I HATE the Iowa Caucus voting process

That's right, I said it. And someone needs to.

In a normal place, we go to the polls, choose the person we want, punch, pull, or tap, and then go home.

But, no! Not the Iowa Democrats.

First, you must show up by 7 p.m. If you get to your caucus location by 7:01 p.m., you can't vote. Then you have to stand on a side for your candidate. So, Obama supporters go to one corner and then Clinton's folks go elsewhere and so on.

After people go back and forth over their choice, including debating the issues, those candidates that don't get 15% of the vote then are allowed to move to another candidate. That means Edwards may be ahead in the first round, but after the shuffle, he gets overtaken by Clinton.

Then it gets even more stupid.

Instead of the person with the most votes winning, we go to a weighted system. That's right. The caucus location gets a number of delegates based on the LAST presidential election. So one location might have a huge influx of folks showing up, but it won't matter in terms of influence. It won't take effect until FOUR YEARS FROM NOW. How is that fair?

On the Republican side, it's a lot easier.

You still must show up at 7 p.m., but the vote is secret and they only report the vote totals for each candidate.

One last wrinkle...the parties are allowed to solicit for money. That's right. You go there to vote, and you get hit up for money. It's not mandatory, but it sure sullies the process.

I'm also ticked because we are getting reports that 150,000 or so Iowans will vote. That is being greeted enthusiastically, but it's pathetic in a state of 2.9 million people. That means that barely 5% of the state's population will play a crucial role in electing nominees for president.

This is why I'm with many other Americans who are sick of this process and want to see other states vote on the same day. I like the ability of candidates showing up to rallies and town hall meetings to talk with voters, but with so few participants, and these Banana Republic-type rules, this is NOT a way to elect a president.

Yet Iowans don't want it to change because their egos get stroked every four years, and the candidates pour a stupid amount of money into the state. Some $40 million has been spent on advertising, and that doesn't include the housing, food bills and other expenses incurred by the volunteers and staff workers.

Let's pray that this is the last election cycle we will see this mess of a way to "vote."
Posted By CNN: 1:14 PM ET
  8 Comments
Thank you Roland S. Martin; I feel the same way. I wish the main theme of the news was something other than the caucuses that I have no idea what they are for or what they do! Please, bring the cameras, and Anderson, back to New York!
Posted By Anonymous PeterGay : 1:52 PM ET
Hi Rowland,

I'm sure glad we don't have this process in Arizona. It rather behind the times and doesn't seem to give everyone an equal opportunity to vote. It's no wonder that voter turnout is so low for the caucus. If we had the same process here I wouldn't be able to participate because of caretaking responsibilities I have at home.

How can one party's voting process differ from the others and be a fair process?

You are so right, this is no way to elect a President. Maybe it was 100 years ago, but certainly not in the 21st Century.
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 3:40 PM ET
Sorry, but I'll take the way Iowa votes over the voting methods used in Florida and Ohio any day.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 6:26 PM ET
The whole caucus process seems pretty stupid to me...I don't get the logic. I'm just glad someone in CNN's organization has brains enough to admit that this is a disaster area and needs to be changed because it really doesn't represent anything. I'm also happy that I'm not the only one who thinks Iowa shouldn't get special treatment and that other states in this country deserve their fair shake at this process. Of course, the electoral college is also a joke as we discovered the first time Bush was elected. So maybe while we're praying for change, we can ask for that one, too. To endure the debacle of democracy as evidenced tonight...
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, Berwick, LA : 7:46 PM ET
Roland,

And nothing of that 40 million goes to health care and education yet!
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New york, NY : 8:17 PM ET
Hi Roland,

With Obama's resounding win tonight how do you think he will do in the rest of the races? Does he have the staying power to go the full course? He's a very strong speaker - but does he have the experience especially in foreign affairs to be effective?

So many countries seem to hate Americans now - it would be good if we had a President who would be more of a participant on the world stage rather than trying to be the top dog like Bush has.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 11:27 PM ET
I feel the same way you do. I don't want to "diss" anyone, but I have been to Iowa (several times) and based on the "ique" of most of the people I met there...let's just say I'm not sure I want them making a very big part in my country's presidential role.
I also agree with you on everything you said.

Sorry for any typos. I'm using my phone to do this and it is a little complicated.

Erica Nicole
Dallas, Texas
Posted By Anonymous Erica : 11:36 PM ET
Um, excuse me, Democrat here.

A: Who says we aren't allowed to have a little fun while we choose who to support? Democrats were smiling and chatting while they caucused. The Republicans looked bored. We're more social. So what?

B: Even with our "more complex" system, CNN got the results FASTER from the Democratic side of things in Iowa. I watched the lower third of the screen. When the Democrats were at 87%, the Republicans were at 76%. Having fun and being more efficient... that's my party for ya.

Allan
Glenn Dale, MD
Posted By Anonymous Allan La Grenade- Finch : 3:33 PM ET
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