While hubby and I were in Iowa campaigning, we got to actually go to an Iowa caucus. It was quite an interesting experience. I don’t think that I have ever seen anything like it.
I arrived at the caucus site at 6:00 pm, and there were already a ton of people milling about and signing in. I start handing out stickers and putting up signs supporting our candidate. I also keep an eye on our precinct captains, who are in charge of speaking to other Iowans and trying to convince them to vote for our side. As an out-of-state volunteer, I had to wear a bright red badge and was instructed not to try to speak with any Iowans that were not voting for our candidate.
This goes on until 7:00, when the doors into the caucus close. Walking into the gym was amazing, turn out was 169 while the official was only told to expect about 60. There were two big groups on either side of the front corner, a much smaller group in the back, then a tiny group of 3 people for an obscure candidate, and about 3 independents trying to make up their minds.
This process is not pretty. Precinct captains from all sides were everywhere trying to convince those 6 people to join their side, because with less than 15% of the vote, they have to re-align with another candidate. Finally, the 3 undesideds move to a group and the 3 people supporting the obscure candidate storm out (one of them throwing cardboard signs at the official in protest).
This all takes until 8:30 because of the way above expected turnout and the fact that each person has to count off twice in order to vote! The numbers never did quite match up, but finally the official threw in the towel and figured it was close enough.
I’ve been an election official here in Virginia before, and every single thing there was double and triple checked, but at the caucuses in Iowa, it is all on the honor system. It was quite a sight to see an election being held with so little oversight and so much politicking inside the caucus room. Evidently, caucuses go back to the founding of America, and were the way that most elections were held until secret ballots became popular.
P.S. Yes, I know that I’ve never said who I was there to support. The campaign asked all volunteers not to blog about their experiences campaigning, but I really wanted to at least give you guys an idea of how crazy it was.