This is the first time that I've ever campaigned for a candidate; the first time I've ever been impassioned enough to travel out of state and walk through neighborhoods (where everyone has a guard dog that thinks I'd be a tasty treat) day in and day out to inform citizens about why I believe Senator Obama will do the best job if elected to be the 44th president. After several days of volunteering out here in Nevada, the day of the Caucus finally arrived. I could barely sleep last night, waiting for this momentous event to occur. Today, was a day I've been looking forward to for months. Little did I know, that I would learn so much more than just the simple rules of how a caucus works. More after the jump.
After waking up at 5:30am this morning to drop off last minute literature for two precints, Dante (hekebolos) and I made our way to Jerome Mack Middle School to set up our individual precinct. Upon our arrival (over an hour before the doors opened for non-volunteering caucus participants), there was already a Clinton table set up front with colorful posters plastered across the front. We soon found out that they had been setting up at the school since 6am, which posters distributed all across the school. When I entered the cafeteria, where my precinct was located along with two other precincts, all I saw was three "Hillary tables". I put this in quotes, because it turns out that these three tables were actually the registration tables for the separate precincts. This was the first of many problems and rules broken by the Hillary camp.
Next, we had to find a place to set up. As there are four candidates left in the democratic primary, each candidate is supposed to get a corner of the "room". The Hillary camp seemed to think there were only two people in the race and placed their signs and tables across one half of the "room". We kindly reminded them, that there are four candidates and that we each needed a corner. After speaking with the Temporary Chair, they reluctantly took down the signs and we had to move their tables ourselves. The tension was clearly building between the Clinton and Obama volunteers.
I am so happy to say, that our Temporary Chair was non-partisan and helped each party as best as he could. I was fortunate, as the neighboring Temporary Head had clearly displayed his loyalty to Hillary with a fat sticker on his chest. He would end up helping the Clinton camp later on, when they started closing the doors at 11:30am (instead of 12pm)as the state party had previously instructed. We had to call the Democratic Party in order to get the doors open again, for a Hillary volunteer who wouldn't settle for anything less. I would later find out, that many precincts had the same problem with Clinton volunteers refusing to let people in after 11:30.
A few moments before the 11:30 chaos, a fellow Obama volunteer came running into my room. He had been assigned to the front to direct people where to find their precinct. Voters were confused when they were headed to my room and then told by Hillary campaigners that it was a "Hillary Only" registration room. They were then directed to the gym, which was, of course, the wrong precinct. Who knows how many supporters we lost to frustration with the seeming disorganization of the process. I was horrified by this information and made sure to stay outside and essentially protect the outside portion of the line so that nobody sent them elsewhere.
Once the doors closed at noon, the first alignment began. There were four for Edwards, and 0 for Kucinich, making those two groups non-viable. When asked to realign, they walked out, because they were members of the Carpenters Union and no matter how much I talked about Obama's support for unions, they wouldn't "vote against their union". They all walked out, so we were left with the Obama and Hillary supporters. Our Temporary Head then said he would allot 5 minutes to each permanent precinct captain to speak to the group about why their candidate is the best choice. Soon after the Obama precinct captain began speaking, the Hillary crowd started cheering and causing a general ruckus so nobody could hear what Kelly (our precinct captain had to say. This was a BLATANT violation of caucus rules and this upset the Temporary Head. His main assistant actually had to yell to quiet down the mob and restore order in what is supposed to be a respectful process. Not a minute later, one of the Hillary supporters rudely interrupted Kelly again, demanding to question her. Again, the Temporary Chair had to intervene to keep her quiet. I couldn't help but shake my head at the nerve of the Hillary voters.
Even at the end after the count had been completed, the Clinton camp wanted to fight about the math saying that you don't round up 6.38 to 7. This might sound odd, but that's how caucus math works. However, our .38 was a higher fraction than their .37, so we got the extra delegate.
Not a minute passed by before Mario, the precinct captain of the neighboring precinct came running towards me asking me for help. Apparently the Clinton supporters that had participated in my precinct had invaded their territory moments afterwards, trying to get counted again. That wasn't the first scandal that took place in precinct 5029. Earlier Mario had reported to me that a woman at his registration table had been asking everyone in line, as she was checking them in, who they were voting for. She filled out the cards as supporting Hillary Clinton, even if they hadn't answered her question yet. One voter noticed her card had been marked as a Clinton supporter and made the Obama volunteers fill out a new card for her as she was an Obama supporter. First of all, it's fishy that this woman is asking everyone who they are waiting for. It intimidating to be asked by the person registering you, whether or not you agree with him/her. This was then dutifully reported to the Nevada State Party. As was the fact that the counts in Precinct 5029 had included the volunteers, where there were only two Obama volunteers and many times that on the Clinton side, none of whom should have been counted.
We'll see how the results come out, but for now I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth about the Clinton campaign. I won't forget these dirty tactics today will never be forgotten. I hope that everyone realizes how much this reflects on Hillary's character. Anything to win, even if it means cheating. I am as strong a supporter for Obama as ever. We can't let the machine win.