January 08, 2008
Washington GOP Caucuses
The Washington GOP precinct caucuses are coming up on February 9th, four days after "Super Duper Tuesday." If the GOP nomination is still up for grabs after February 5th, Washington becomes very important.
However, it is even more complicated here than in Iowa.
In Iowa, the Democrats select delegates by precinct based on which candidate they support. The Republicans just straight-up vote for their candidates.
But in Washington -- speaking for the Republicans, not sure about the Democrats -- we elect delegates as individuals. We can consider their presidential preference if we want to (the rules state that each delegate nominee shall state their preference, or declare themselves uncommitted), but we still elect the delegate, and the candidate preference is not binding.
Further, this only determines who goes to the county convention. Even if 1/4 of the precincts send all Ron Paul delegates, those delegates then have to get elected at the county convention to get to state, and it is theoretically conceivable that none of them would go. Same thing at the state level, to be a national delegate.
And to top it all off, this only accounts for half of Washington's national delegates to the Republican convention; the other half are determined by the statewide primary on February 19.
The Democratic part of that primary, however, does not count for anything. At all. It's a big waste of taxpayer money and time. The Democratic delegates are selected entirely by caucus/convention.
Washington state law requires a Presidential primary be held, but -- because it would be an unconstitutional infringement on the right to association -- does not require that it actually have any meaning. Indeed, it states right in the law (not that such permission is needed, as it is a First Amendment right) that a party may base its allocation of delegates based in whole or in part on the party's caucus and convention process.
And, of course, the Democrats have chosen to do that in whole, and the Republicans to do that in part.
So there's a state law that says "we must have a presidential primary, even if it is not used for anything." Kinda silly. And it also makes the primary results very unpredictable, since many Democrats, knowing the Democratic primary is meaningless, may vote in the Republican primary instead (as is happening in Florida right now, for different reasons, but the same result: the Democratic primary means nothing, and the Republican primary counts for only half).
There is an oath you must sign to vote in the primary, however, and someone who is a Democrat, or who has participated in the Democratic caucus in 2008, cannot vote in the Republican primary unless they lie on their oath.
And note that if you do sign the oath (Democrat or Republican, both parties have them), your name and address will be given to the respective state and county party. This is also in the aforementioned state law. The oath and notification to the party does not apply to the regular primary (to be held this summer), but only the presidential primary.
Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.
Posted by pudge at January 08, 2008
10:28 PM | Email This
1. "There is an oath you must sign to vote in the primary, however, and someone who is a Democrat, or who has participated in the Democratic caucus in 2008, cannot vote in the Republican primary unless they lie on their oath."
Oh, hell. That would never happen in this state... would it?
2. NurseWilliam, ha. :-)
4. I really do "hate" Washington's method now of participating in the Presidential nominations. The parties have totally screwed over the people. Primaries are better than caucuses in determining voter intent. Why is it this state is so screwed up in this regards, whereas, other states do hold primaries where one goes into the voting both and choose a party's ballot and then vote? What is so wrong with this?
First, the method "now"? It hasn't changed significantly for about 20 years. And in that 20 years, the ability of people to participate has INCREASED. We've always had caucuses here, and only added the primary about 20 years ago, which the Republicans have usually used to some degree, and the Democrats have never used.
So if you're a Democrat in WA, your presidential primary vote has NEVER counted.
And how is anyone gtting "screwed over"? I think there must be something you don't understand. The process of selecting a candidate to be that party's nominee for the general election is not for "the people," but for members of that party. A party is a private organization. It is unconstitutional for anyone, especially the state of Washington, to tell a political party that it must accept what "the people" tell them their nominee should be.
A party may choose to allow "the people" to participate in that process, but "the people" certainly have no right to do so.
If you want to show that someone is getting "totally screwed over," you should probably try to show that those people have some right that is being taken away. And that's just not happening.
It's not about right and wrong, it's about choice. The parties have the ultimate choice. The Republicans choose to allow the primaries to count, and the Democrats don't. You can disagree with that choices, but in a free America, it must remain a choice of the party.
Don't like it? You have three options: join a political party and try to change that choice from the inside; start your own political party; or try to change the laws to make parties have less influence. As to the latter option, this could mean removing party affiliations from the ballot, getting rid of all taxpayer-funded nominating primaries (which, while decreasing party influence, would also make it harder for people to participate), and so on. But the one thing you can't do is force a political party to nominate a candidate its members don't want, to accept the will of "the people" at large over the will of its membership.
Political parties are free associations. As long as they violate no rights, they can do whatever they want to. Their reputations should suffer if they pick their candidates in smoke-filled rooms.
But no party should be subsidized by the taxpayers either. There is no way that the D's or R's should have their primaries subsidized by the taxpayer.
We need a separation between political party and state. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of political party."
Political parties should not appear on ballott lines. Candidates should be free to mention that they have the nomination of any party in their voters' guide statements, just like any other endorsement.
Taxpayer funded party nomination conventions are just welfare to politicians. The parties should fund their nominating processes via voluntary contributions, and the process should be deregulated.
If the states want to prevent the "spoiler effect" they can do one of two things: have non-partisan, top-two style primaries, or go to instant run-off voting. I think IRV is better, because it eliminates the possibility of two members of the same party facing each other in a general election, and it saves money, and allows more people more choices. Why allow the minority who vote in primaries to limit the choices of those who only vote in general elections? This causes radical elements to have too much influence.
Pierce County has an IRV election coming up. First in the nation! It is a big deal, and will be very interesting to watch.
Bruce Guthrie: if the people want to participate in the nominating process and the parties want to allow them to, I see nothing wrong with the people "subsidizing" the primary. That is the choice of the people.
And I despise IRV. One person, one vote, period. You vote for one candidate and stick with it.
9. Thanks for clearing this up, pudge. I was confused as to how exactly it worked in Washington. Good to know.
10. If the primary will account for a portion of the delegates, what "pool" of citizens does that opportunity go to or is it just a "number" not necessary to be an actual delegate elector?
Cydney, yeah, I wasn't so sure either, so I figure I'd share my research.
KitsapVoter: my guess -- and I would be very surprised if I was wrong, but it wouldn't be the first time -- is that the pool of delegates to the national convention that represent the primary will be chosen from delegates to the state convention. That's how all the primary states do it, as far as I know.
12. #5 (Pudge)
Good post! You are right on the money and I can't figure out why people find this so difficult or "wrong". I do have a problem with tax money supporting this exercise, but that is what initiative law will give you. This will be a PARTY primary. Almost all other states have solved this by requiring voters to register by Party. Washington is just paranoid or - reclusive???? No wonder we have election problems here.
13. Thanks Pudge, you're right. I was confusing myself over the dates the caucus and state convention. In 2000 at the convention in Bellevue the delegates to the national convention were chosen from the leg district delegates by scale.
14. KitsapVoter, you sure it was LD? I didn't move to WA until 2003, but I did go to the 2004 convention, and delegates were elected by CD, not LD (although the primary didn't come into play, of course, in 2004).
15. So the Dem's who come over get some more GOP election junk mail...whoop de do. Not much the State GOP can do with a bunch of addresses. Doubt it will stop those socialist buggers from showing up in my dist and voting for Ron Paul. I think we need to start fining them.
16. Once again Pudge, I bow. You are correct it was CD not leg districts. I recall thinking at the time Kitsap was getting the short end of the delegate selection stick since the entire county GOP representation lies in the 6th even though, at the time, the KCRP was trying to caucus in the 1st CD. (Population projections were expected to reverse in 2000 giving the edge to the Kitsap in the 1st district)
17. Angry White Guy: are you being intentionally obtuse? Because obviously, the problem is Democrats skewing the results, not getting on a mailing list.
Tell me if I have this wrong:
In 2004 at the state convention in Bellevue, the 9 CDs caucused and elected 3 delegates apiece to the national convention. Then the whole convention elected 13 (right?) at-large delegates. They joined the 3 automatic delegates for a total delegation of 43, all of whom supported Bush-Cheney, of course. :)
From what I can gather, this year we have 3 fewer delegates, so: 3 automatic, 27 by CD and 10 at-large. How are these people allocated to the candidates and elected, though? Will the campaigns have slates? I gather that 21 of those delegates must vote for the winner of the primary. Is that winner take all statewide or by CD or what?
I'm sure that each campaign must have their own internal analyses of how everything's going to work. You guys should get Dick Derham to write an exhaustive explanation and link to it as he's the only unquestioned authority. :D I mean, I consider myself at least slightly informed and savvy and I know nothing of how this is going to work right now. I would hate to be a newbie to politics and try to make sense of it! All I have is Veda Jellen's guide to the caucuses from 2000 and all the rules have changed. :(
For the 49% of delegates selected by caucus, these delegates -- as I understand -- will NOT be winner-take-all. Each delegate is elected as an individual, regardless of presidential preference (though of course the voters can take their preference under consideration).
Of course, campaigns CAN have slates, informally, at the least. Romney's people can ask delegates to vote for Eric Earling and others who support Romney.
As to the delegates chosen to represent the primary result, I don't know how that is broken down, or how the delegates are elected.
The delegates selected at the caucuses Feb. 9 will go to the LD caucuses, which are who knows when (same morning as the county conventions in King Co, probably?). And I understand that they are chosen as individuals. I'm just interested in the delegate selection for the state and national convention.
And not to pick on anyone in particular, but none of the details about the whole process (which used to be hard to navigate and is now much harder) should be secret. I saw a quote from Rick Santorum today that said the nomination will probably be decided at the national convention... whoa. I doubt it will, but still. It boggles the mind how important this is and there's no resource really. Is there even a copy of the WSRP bylaws online?
The WSRP staff members are wonderful people who are probably very busy, but they should put some kind of exhaustive document online explaining the rules and processes for this. :)
In Snohomish County, the county convention and LD caucuses are together, and is at the end of March.
And AD, I've been saying for months -- last summer? earlier? -- that this is likely to be decided at convention, and I've seen nothing to make me change my mind. I don't know what that has to do with the process being public or secret, though ... ?
I'm not saying it's being held in secret. I'm saying it's a very complicated situation and I'd rather know what the process is beforehand, rather than just waking up some Saturday and going to the county or state convention with no idea of what to expect.
And I was just mentioning the fact that the nomination might be decided at the national convention to illustrate that whoever we send there might be VERY important, in a way national delegates haven't been for decades.
23. Ah, yes ... that's what I was telling people months ago, that if they wanted to be a PCO, they should do it soon so they could be an automatic delegate, because it might be very important this year ...
24. After giving lip service following the 2000 and 2004 elections as to how important it is that the military vote be counted, both the D's and the R's in Washington persisit in using the caucus system, which effectively excludes our active duty military from participation in the process. I guess that goes hand-in-hand with the fact that most of the current crop of candidates did not volunteer for and in many instances actively avoided military service. If we truly supported our troops, you would think that we would afford them an equal voice in the electoral process as those who never served.
Tim: that is part of why more than half of GOP delegates are chosen by primary.
It stinks in some ways, sure. But should we make it so active duty military can participate in EVERYTHING equally? Because that's impossible. They are restricted by DOD policy.
If we were to go that far, then the political party would become completely meaningless. Parties would not be able to have any power to have any conventions to make any decisions, because all such gatherings exclude active duty military.
So where is the line drawn?
Think of MY rights as an individual: I choose to join a party that represents my political views, to further those views. If we open it up entirely to a primary, taking decisions away from the actual members of that party, then that diminishes my right to be a part of a group that picks someone to represent our collective views.
There's no good answer for everyone, but the bottom line is that the military personnel made a choice, and the party (well, the GOP anyway) has come up with a compromise position. No one gets everything, but everyone gets something.
I guess Pudge was just too much of a coward to serve the United States of America, by joining one of the US Military services. Why would you expect him to feel he owes any loyalty to those of us who did put our lives on the line...so that he could attack, and usually not debate or answer questions given to him.
A "privileged elitist", or just a wind bag bozo?
I will break from my normal practice of not responding to trolls to simply laugh at the notion that you are attacking me for not debating ... by making ad hominem attacks.
Can't you come up with something that isn't self-parody?
Don't bother answering, because I won't read, let alone respond, to it if you do.
"Can't you come up with something that isn't self-parody?"
Tell me your service record, did you serve with John Kerry?
Once again an attack... look at pudge's record over the last year...let's see maybe he can PERL his responses and give us the STATS.
Er ist ein Kopf gefullt mit poopsen!