Maine Democracy Moves Slowly

Even though The Hangover’s preferred candidate had already been knocked out (or dropped out, take your pick) of the presidential race, I lived up to my responsibility as a citizen and took part today in the Maine Democratic Caucus.  It took approximately two hours and thirty-seven minutes for me to cast my vote for Barack Obama.  This was not the result of indecision on my part, but the cumbersome mechanics of this specific process.  The caucus system has to be the electoral equivalent of the pony express.

It happens like this:  Once a party member arrives, they are checked off on the registration list and herded into the meeting area.  Following the National Anthem the caucus is called to order and the group rubber-stamps some pre-written bylaws and, in Soviet style, nominates and accepts certain caucus officials (In regards to expediency, this is a good thing).  Speeches are made by either present candidates or their supporters (Neither Clinton or Obama chose to show up in Kennebunkport to speak on their own behalf.  Shocking, I know.)  The group then gets divided with the supporters of respective candidates literally going to their neutral corners.   Those who are undecided or wish to reconsider are given their own spot on the floor and can be subjected to more speeches soliciting their support.  Luckily, the fervor of the current election left no ambivalent voters and therefore no reason for more oration.  A count is taken.  After that, delegates to the state convention are chosen based on the proportions of the vote.  Only then are citizens free to resume their normal lives.   

While the caucus system at one time must have been useful (perhaps in the pre-industrial age) for keeping voters informed of candidates, platforms, and issues, today it is simply antiquated.  With the information bombardment one encounters with newspapers, radio, cable and satellite television, the Internet, and text messaging, it seems impossible that a citizen could walk into a presendential vote without knowing something of a candidate’s beliefs or stances.    This is the modern world:  There is no reason that what could be a one-second effort with a number two pencil needs to take three hours. 

Like many voters in 2008, I’m hoping for change.  And changing Maine’s preliminary election method from caucus to primary would be a good start. 

BTW:  Obama 177, Clinton 66, Edwards 1 (an absentee ballot, probably submitted before he dropped out).  As detailed in my Perfect Record post, that I supported Obama could mean real trouble for him down the road. 

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