The Caucuses Ain't Just a Region in Asia

So, because of the endless appeals of North Carolina legislative districts, North Carolina's primary elections for 2004 have been delayed until July at least. In order for North Carolina to be represented at the Democratic National Convention, delegates will have to be selected before that time. In order to avoid the expense of conducting a statewide presidential preference primary all by itself, Democrats will have a statewide caucus for the first time in more than 25 years.

I have been wondering how this is going to work for those of us who vote in Orange County. According to the state Democratic Party website, we will be conducting the caucus on Saturday April 17, 2004 between 8 AM and 12 Noon. As near as I can tell, this will be very much like a primary election except that:

  1. Only registered Democrats can vote (you have until April 9, 2004 to change your registration and still participate),
  2. There will be at MOST two polling sites in Orange County. Some larger counties will have more. The two poling sites are being chosen by Orange Co Democratic Party Chair Barry Katz (I think), but will not necessarily be known until February 27, and
  3. The tabulation of votes will be done by Democratic party volunteers, rather than the Board of Elections.

This process will be woefully undemocratic because it seems unlikely that we will have very high turnout. On the positive side, those of us who do show up will have more say-so in the process. Although, you might well wonder whether there will be anything left to decide by the time April 17 rolls around.



Paul, how could you? After I so carefully avoided any finger pointing . . .

Why would Democrats draft a plan to favor the Republicans? All districts are relatively arbitrary. I don't expect the Republicans to draw Democrat oriented districts in Texas. Do you?


I don't think anyone expects the Democrats to draft a plan that favors Republicans any more than one would expect Republicans to draft a plan that favors Democrats. A plan that is fair towards the citizens of our state (versus being loaded towards a particular party) would suffice.

Wouldn't you agree?


I am not sure how any of the plans that have been discussed constitue (objectively) a disservice to the people of North Carolina.


Here is an article on redistricting that you may find interesting:

According to John Hood, "the ongoing litigation has nothing to do with the delay in the May primaries. ... The delay in the May 4, 2004 primaries began in 2003 with an unnecessary delay in the legislature's response to a court order to redraw districts. You can't blame the Stephenson plaintiffs this time."

If what is represented in the article is true and if the Democrats control the State Legislature, what reasonable and objective conclusion can be made with respect to fairness towards the people of Orange County and North Carolina?

What was wrong with the former Democrat drawn NC House District 55 and why is the new Democrat drawn NC House District 50 better?

Best wishes at the caucuses!


At any rate, the Democratic Party has contempt for the citizenry or it would create an authentic primary system that would honor the will of the people. The national insiders don't care about what we think in NC and the NC insiders don't have the integrity to cry foul.

So they have chosen Kerry for us - Iraq War supporter, Patriot Act supporter, NAFTA supporter - hopefully his policies will only kill, starve, or sicken 80% of the number of people that the Bush cabal have ruined. I guess the power brokers decided we needed another Skull and Bones member in the White House.


I am not sure how the Democratic party could have on its own "create[d] an authentic primary system that would honor the will of the people" and staffed up 2500 precincts with volunteers. The new July 20 primary date is after the June 6 cutoff imposed by the Democratic National committee for delegate selection for the Jule 26 National Convention. In any case, the rules require that one of the caucus sites by near the biggest concentration of registered Democrats, so we can expect one site in Southern Orange and the other in Northern Orange. There will absentee voting for those disabled or with religious objections to the Saturday date (Orthodox Jews, for example) and while there is no absentee voting for other reasons, a registered Democrat can go to ANY caucus site in the State and vote (for instance UNC students registered in other counties do not have to go home that Saturday, they can just vote in Chapel Hill. In any case, the word "caucus" used to describe the process is a misnomer, it is really "primary lite" as you can just go in, vogte, and leave. All voting will be on paper ballots, you sign your name, indicate your congressional district, and vote. The resemblance to a caucus is that the ballots are not really secret, as they are open for inspection after they are tallied (caucuses are NOT secret proceedings like a regular primary.

There are two sides to every story and I do not believe we are in this situation because of the "endless appeals of North Carolina legislative districts".

Had the Democratic Party not gerrymandered the districts in the first place, there would be nothing to appeal. The recently created House District 50 (which comprises Northern Orange and Caswell County) is a perfect exampe of the gerrymandering.

There has long been a rumor around the legislative building that Joe Hackney was having a district redrawn for a friend. Now that Barry Jacobs has announced his candidacy, we know there was some truth to that rumor. Nevermind that in drawing the lines for House Seat 50, House Seat 55 (Northern Orange and Person County) was being eliminated. Why? Because Representative Gordon Allen is retiring this year and in 2002, an Orange County Republican (Kathy Hartkopf) got 47% of the vote of that district and won in Orange County. If House District 55 remained, Hartkopf (and the Republican Party) would have a better than average shot at taking the district. We can't have that!

So what? Thats politics ... but that is also part of the reason why North Carolina Democrats are having caucuses. ;-)



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