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February 22, 2008


Doreen Hartzell

I can certainly understand your frustration. Especially for states that usually have caucuses after the national nomination has been tied up, the logistics of how to run these have been completely overwhelmed this year. I've been a caucus convener in my state for several years, and my precinct turnout was 15 times larger than average. I had them all out the door in 45 minutes after convening (2-3 hours was typical for most of the other ones in my city), but it requires a better understanding of how to run them than the training that is provided for meeting chairs.

The easy way to make it run more quickly is the person in the room who makes motions on the procedures and gets those voted on during the approval of the agenda. If you venture back again, I'd suggest the following motions to keep things moving, your fellow attendees will be grateful:

1. Set up a ballot box for voting for the presidential candidates (we did statewide, since the vote was to set the state's delegate ratio for the national convention, not the actual delegates themselves at the precinct level). Let people who only want to participate in that part vote and leave. About 2/3 of my attendees left after casting that ballot. It is usually perfectly legit to make a motion for a paper-based vote on anything at all.

2. Do not allow speakers on behalf of any candidates unless they are the candidate themselves, a spouse, the campaign manager, or a personal letter from a candidate to be read. If you're the chair, you can generally just assert this, and it is improbable that the few who want to speak will get a rule change to pass, since most attendees realize the speeches are rarely compelling oratory.

3. Make a motion that all resolutions (if you do them at this level) must be written down and presented to the chair. The chair reads only the resolution part so you can skip the two pages of "whereas". Vote on as many of them as you can in one slate without discussion. Allow discussion on any that the group demands, and allow the person who submitted it to be the first speaker in support so they can summarize the "whereas" on a time limit.

4. If your delegate spots to later endorsing conventions are contested, then the people who want to be selected can state which candidates they will support for all non-presidential tickets if they are selected.

Andrew Hyde

When you go to another caucus (next year) you will see why the counting hands thing works really well: usually there is about 10 people in your precinct.

Imagine doing voting a different way when making a decision with 10 of your neighbors.

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