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Highlights From My First and Probably Last Caucus

"It's 7 p.m, and the Democratic caucus is in session!" the leader cried over a bullhorn.

Pandemonium erupted - cheers and war whoops - in the overcrowded school where I was attending my first caucus. I'd moved to Colorado, a caucus state, 5 years ago, but in the 2004 election, John Kerry had already been declared the nominee before our state caucuses were held. Only 200 people had showed up that year at the elementary school gym, but this year, on Super Tuesday, there were 2500. An unprecedented number!

I was excited: my first taste of democracy in action. But by the end of the evening, I would wonder if it was democracy at all.

I'd just broken my collar bone in a ski accident and torn a ligament in my knee. I was wearing a brace and couldn't drive, but nothing could stop me from attending. A friend picked me up an hour early for the five-minute drive to the school, but we had to scrounge for parking and wait in line in the freezing night just to register. So by 7, tension was high. Would Obama or Clinton get the most votes?

The caucus leader spent 20 minutes reading procedural rules, while people grumbled, "Bo-ring." One person was allowed to speak for each candidate, but they said things we'd heard a thousand times. Finally, the leader said we would proceed to voting, "which HAS to be open. No secret ballots."

We broke up into our neighborhood precincts, and mine gathered in the cafeteria. We counted ourselves off aloud: 115.

"Do you want to discuss the candidates further?" the precinct captain asked.


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