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From the nine precincts gathered in the Glenn Miller Ballroom at the University of Colorado for the Democratic caucus, Sen. Bernie Sanders won all but one delegate.
Participating in Super Tuesday 2016 at my first caucus was not what I imagined. While I stood in line to register at the UMC, I chatted with the people about their thoughts on the race.
People expressed hope that Sanders would win Colorado, but doubted his success in the Southern states. Halfway up the stairs, an exasperated organizer shouted down the line that people were being turned away because they had failed to affiliate by Jan. 4, update their address or show up at the correct location for their precinct.
The angry disappointment on people’s faces as they stomped out the door made me second-guess my own voter status, but I got checked in without a hitch. As I entered the ballroom, I expected a spectacle of swarming students engaging in boisterous debate, but instead found neatly set up chairs, gradually filling with calm, mostly quiet democrats.
Students dominated the turnout — I was delighted to see lots of familiar faces participating — so as I stepped over to precinct 836, I sat down next to Don and Sue Weatherly, an elderly couple in the minority not only according to their age, but in their support for Clinton.
The two from Boulder explained how in year’s past, they caucused at their neighbor’s house, not in a massive ballroom. They commented on how impressed they were with the student involvement, energy and passion for the presidential race, and reminisced back to their own college days, when they joined political movements and activist causes. We discussed globalization, the economy, technology and Clinton’s and Sanders’ political campaigns, as the room remained at a low murmur, people patiently waiting to begin.
As seven o’clock drew near, Dan Gould, a Boulder County Democratic official, took to the stage to inform us that registration was not going smoothly. As a result, the event started an hour late around 8:00 p.m., with Gould reading the party rules and explain the proceedings. A representative for each candidate spoke, explaining their reasons for support.
I recognized Spencer Carnes, Sanders’ representative for the caucus, and cheered along with the resounding agreement of the room when he declared, “We’re at the start of a new age of progressive politics, and Bernie is at the forefront of this political revolution!” The woman promoting the Clinton campaign admitted to being undecided, until she was swayed by the Benghazi trials in Congress, where Hillary withstood the heat and was “the smartest person in the room.”
Once each representative shared their two minute pitch, Gould volunteered himself to be the caucus chair for all of the precincts (minus the one that went to a different room) for the sake of timeliness and cohesion. The whole ordeal was surprisingly organized. I expected a cacophony of shouted arguments and disputes, but when the floor was opened for debate, the collective eight precincts opted to skip that step to go straight into voting.
The entire room, as lead by Gould, voted at the same time. There were exactly 70 people present in my precinct, and we voted by holding up our cards while the volunteer secretary and counters tallied and recorded our numbers on colorful paperwork.
In several precincts, Clinton did not reach the 15 percent threshold of preliminary votes, which meant she was considered ineligible to receive delegates from those precincts. In my precinct’s final vote, she did not surpass 25 percent, so both of the precinct’s delegates went to Sanders.
Voters present in support of Clinton were understandably displeased, and once all of the candidate voting was over, some people left the caucus before the vote for the Democrats’ candidate for State House District 10 got underway. The delegates to go to the Boulder County convention and represent their precinct’s candidate were chosen on a volunteer basis, and the night was over around 9:15.
It was not the boisterous party I thought it would be, but more democratic and structured. Although I missed one of my classes to caucus, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to support my candidate. Power lies in voter turnout. Even if you think you are just one person, your voice still counts.