Wa Dem Caucus

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    Anyone have questions about the process?

    I have a few about the changes rumored for this year, but I probably know more about the process than most having chaired my precinct caucus in both presidential years and off years.

    Basic info is

    Feb 9th at 1 pm.

    Registered voters can caucus but any resident can attend and take part in the discussions.

    The sign in sheet is where you must affirm you are a Democrat (on that day)

    So far the planning seems to indicate that there will be refreshments (coffee, pastries, etc) and the sign in sheet will be used to track both the initial choice as well as any changes in support during the caucus.

    Each precinct will need a chair (usually the PCO if there is one) and a secretary and a tally clerk. Forms and checklists will be provided to aid those who are unfamiliar with the process.

    Relatively heavy turnout is expected and efforts are underway to streamline the sign-in process as well as the choosing of delegates.

    Speaking of turnout, here is an example. During the last presidential nominating process, my precinct had 48 people show up out of around 400 registered voters (approx 88% of those self identified as Democrats) so estimated 350 as Democrats.

    During the off year caucus, there were 4 of us that showed so we could not even fill all the allowed delegates for the precinct.

    This is where grass roots organizing has a chance to multiply their vote since the power defaults to those who show up.

    So far the “primary” election will just be a popularity contest for those who are too lazy or unable to participate in the caucus for some reason. It does indeed exclude those working on Saturday, deployed, and ill from the process but remember this is a party function, paid for by the local districts (that is where our annual dues go) and donations collected at the caucus. (so bring a few bucks for the donations envelope)It is not meant to be a beauty contest for the public at large.

    Also note, each precincts number of delegates it can send to the district and county conventions, is determined by voter turnout in the previous general elections. (I am trying to find the formula and exact method for delegate assignment but so far …)

    Details for the 34th LD Democrats


    King County Dems caucus page


    WA State Democrats page




    My neighbor sent me this link to a Canadian news magazine giving a fascinating account of one Iowa caucus.




    Also note we have reported on this twice on WSB so far with details and links too (haven’t seen the citywide media paying much attention yet, but honestly, this is only a month away!) —


    (Jan. 3)



    (Dec. 19)



    If I remember correctly. The newspapers hold off until the state and county parties buy some ads.

    Free milk vs cow and all that.

    The last two weeks is when they will start using the press releases and manage to mangle the details in editing.

    The tv stations will mash it up with some incomprehensible fake controversy and then run it on the weekend before or like some times in the past, not mention it until it is over at which point it becomes “news”.

    It is an old game around here.

    Even some of the liberal web sites think the “primary” is the relevant part of the process. It is if you’re a republican… They will choose half the GOP delegates at the caucus/straw poll and half via the primary.



    Well, just to tamp the cynicism a tiny bit: As we posted here in finally belatedly introducing ourselves last month, I worked in “conventional media” for many years, including 14-plus years as a manager in TV news departments here in Seattle. The political coverage was always “my thing” because few people in the newsroom really took the time to pay attention to it, get passionate about it, learn about the people and the issues, much more a case of negligence than deliberate malfeasance. But — and this is part of the reason why I have left that business — it’s true, it doesn’t get much coverage any more till the last minute, hard to squeeze it in between the latest bursts of mayhem coverage, which is where most local tv news is hanging most of its hats right now. But thank heavens for this here medium that we are all using for communication right this moment … it makes it possible to learn as much as you want to know, provided it’s not too tough to find. Which is part of our mission here in this small corner of the Internet: make the hyperlocally relevant info easy to find. Going to add an election page before long. — TR @ WSB



    I know I, for one, will be at WSHS for my caucus on Feb. 09, as will my daughter, who, at age 27, is finally realizing how important these processes are. Why let someone else make the decision for us?



    Some time last year I thought I heard that Dem Prez delegates (to the National convention) were to be selected by PCO’s, not the public at caucus or primary.

    Where can we find the official rules about who will determine Prez delegates to the National convention, from Washington State?

    I’ve tried looking around the official County and State Dem web sites, but found nothing that clarifies, with authority, who will select the delegates.

    If it’s still just PCO’s, then the caucus and primary are just straw polls, for the Democrat Party.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    UPDATE: This article (link below) seems to indicate the caucus will select Dem Prez delegates, but the Primary will not. “The state Democratic Party, as it has in prior years, will ignore the results of the statewide vote [Primary] …”

    I may have been confused by the issue of “super delegates”, which are selected from within the Party … “Another 17 Democratic delegates will be “super-delegates,” elected officials and high party officers who are free to back the candidate of their choice at the conventions”



    Seattle Times, June 10, 2007



    RE super delegates:

    Both parties have them and they are elected officials above a certain level (what determines the level is probably in each State/National parties bylaws somewhere)and party officials also determined by those same bylaws.

    Indirectly, PCO’s voted for the party officials (actually we voted for people who voted for the

    party officials) And the electorate voted for the elected officials who are also super delegates.

    For convention delegates, the caucus is the only source for non super delegates on the Dem side.

    The Republicans will choose half at the caucus and half at the primary.. unless they change their mind.

    If Huck or Ron Paul were to win the republican caucus, then the party is not above a little top down retroactive maneuvering if it is commanded to by the RNC.

    I am under no illusion that the WA Dems would not buckle under the same kind of pressure from the DNC, but there does not seem to be any similar divisions on the Dem side. I suspect all Dems agree that any random Democrat pulled stinking drunk out of a Drinking Liberally meeting, would be a better choice than the current administration or the current crop of Republican wannabees.

    If you’re not in the trenches for a particular candidate or party, then stock up on popcorn since this is probably going to be quite entertaining.



    Ken – Are kids under 18 allowed to come to the caucus? The FAQ page on the WA Dem page said unregistered voters can participate but not vote, but it didn’t specifically say whether younger children can attend. My middle schooler is very interested and pretty informed about the political process, and is especially into tracking the presidential election process. I would love for him to be exposed to the caucus (first year for us to attend) and he is very eager to come. Thanks for any info…



    Unfortunately I cannot go to the caucus as I need to be out of town for something I can’t change. But I’m curious, what exactly does one do at a caucus? How long is it? From all that I’ve read about it, I’m really not clear about the event. I notice that my particular precinct has no leader listed – what would that mean if I were going? Does someone need to step up on the spot to take charge? And if they don’t? I’d love to understand a bit more about it for next time. I came from a non-caucus state, and this is my first presidential election here in WA, so this is very new to me.



    I just noticed the last two questions…


    Kids that are not likly to cry or run around and/or get bored are probably fine. Our grandson would be banned after a few minutes.

    I think the SCC page states something like.. well let me go look at it…

    Washington State residents who are not qualified to register to vote because of

    age or citizenship shall be allowed to participate in the platform and resolution

    discussions, but not vote on the election of delegates or alternates, nor may they

    be elected as delegates or alternates

    I think that indicates that any interested student smart enough to be interested in presidential politics, can not only attend, but take part in the discussions and even speak for a candidate if they like, if time allows and there is no representative of that candidate hogging the discussion time.

    Go to http://www.wa-democrats.org/ for all the details normal people can stand. And it your really really interested here is a

    pdf of delegate selection document in all it’s obtuse glory

    This is the official document, or one of them that is used as a resource for those running the caucus. There is also a Caucus Hotline at (206) 583-4345 or e-mail grassroots@wa-democrats.org. This us a statewide number. I am awaiting a bit more clarity on an age related question myself. More on that later.

    Sue’s question in next post.



    Sue: The link above might answer some of your questions. Sorry you will miss the caucus. The caucus process is harder on absentee issues in this state than it is in a few others if I remember correctly.

    Here is the detailed answer for those who might have to miss the caucus but want to participate anyway.

    From the FAQ on the Dem site (since they say it better than I do…

    Can I vote absentee or by proxy in the Caucuses? No. There are only three reasons you can vote in the caucuses without being there. If you serve in the military, have a medical condition that prevents your attendance, or for religious reasons cannot attend your caucus, you can request an affidavit from the State Party. To find this affadavit, go to http://www.wa-democrats.org/caucusinfo and download the Caucus Surrogate Affadavit Form. This must be returned to the State Party by February 1st. No one else can vote without being there. You can become a delegate without attending your caucus. College students registered at their home address but living away from home cannot vote but can become a delegate using the process described below.

    Link to FAQhttp://www.wa-democrats.org/index.php?page=display&id=266

    The caucus has some strict time allotments and some that are soft. In general normal sized precincts will be done in about two hours.

    Getting there early or at least on time will be best especially for those in large precincts since the sign-in process can become a bottleneck when turnout is as big as expected.

    next: ok your precinct has no PCO. Yes that means one of your neighbors will have to volunteer at the caucus to run it. They will then appoint a secretary and a tally clerk. (assuming there are at least three people from your precinct)

    More details and a You tube video of the step by step are at the state party page above.

    Even though you might have to miss the caucus, if your precinct has no PCO, then you should consider becoming the PCO yourself. Candidate organizations urge their supporters to become PCO’s where possible. You can be appointed after filling out a short form at a district meeting and run for the position next year. It is a rare precinct that has contested PCO elections since it is an unpaid party position, but this year also included replacing a 34th district Senator and a Rep in which case ONLY PCO’s were allowed to vote for the replacements.

    Here is the PCO handbook in html format


    For more info on caucus history,

    this article is pretty easy to read.


    I see my link code is now being turned into alternate text. editing to re add full urls.




    Ken – thank you for your wealth of info and patience with all the questions. I’ll plan to bring my 13 year old but will stay tuned in case any new info emerges …



    I understand from a Seattle Times news article today that 17 year olds can vote at the caucus if, and only if that 17 y.o. will be 18 years old by election day in November.




    I think I detailed the 17year old voting issue on a caucus thread on the main page. I will post it again here in a few just to keep it all together. The question above concerned children/students who are residents of a precinct, but not old enough to vote for a preference or delegates but still might wish to accompany a parent and even speak if time and the chair allows.

    You are correct that those who will be 18 on or before the date of the November general election, can , by Dem party rules, fully participate in the caucus.

    The language in the documents used to run the caucus were vague enough that I requested a statement from the state party as well as confirming the inflexible nature of the Sec of states requirement for the primary. For example, those who will be 18 on or before Nov GE, can fully participate in the Dem caucus. Only those who are 18 on the date of the primary and registered (15 day advanced I think) can vote in the Primary (which is choosing 1/2 the republican delegates and 0 of the Democratic delegates).

    According the the Sec of States office, the Republican party is following the 18 and registered rule for both the primary and the Republican caucus.

    I am pretty sure it never occoured to the Republicans that there could be a “youth vote” on their side.



    Thanks Ken. Your diligence and knowledge have been superior. When the Democrats take back the White House you should receive at least an ambassordship appointment… even if it is only to be Ambassador of West Seattle. Thanks again.



    repost of info from a main page caucus thread:

    A note on the process of the Dem caucus.

    This week I called the caucus hot line for clarification on the age of participation issue. I remember in 04 there was mention of 17 year olds being able to caucus but it was pretty much a moot point since I could not even get any of the 18 to 25 set to show up at 9 am on a Saturday no matter what kind of game they talked…

    But this year we are seeing a serious increase in the youth turnout in many places across the country.

    One aspect of the Dem caucus being used exclusively to choose the delegates rather than the state sponsored primary, is that the parties make the rules. The Republicans seem to be following the state primary rules for the caucus since they are using both for delegates.

    The Dems are free to accept caucus input and even votes from those who are 17 now but will be 18 on or before the November general election.

    Question 5 of the FAQ makes it semi clear that 17 year olds that will be able to register to vote by November, will be able to vote at the caucus.

    Who can participate in their caucus? All registered voters and those who will be 18 at the time of the presidential election can vote at their caucus. You can register to vote at the caucus location and vote in the caucus. Others who are not registered can participate but can not vote.

    Those I have talked to at the caucus hot line are interpreting the above somewhat ambiguous language to allow 17 year olds (who according to the Sec of State CANNOT register until they are 18) to fully participate in the caucus.

    So If you know any one who will be 18 and a precinct resident and otherwise eligible to vote in November, make sure and bring them along to the caucus

    Faq page:


    Addenum note: This years caucus starts at ONE PM on Saturday afternoon so even those who might have stayed up a bit too late on Friday can attend. I am pretty sure there will also be FREE COFFEE :)



    Ken, I really appreciate the time you spent explaining this further. Although I can’t be there at the caucus this year, I definitely want to be better informed so I can be more involved when and where I can. Thanks so much!



    ken- if you can stand one more question.. I have always voted, but never attended a caucus. Where do I go? Can I drop in at any caucus location or does it need to be my precinct? I normally vote at Hope Lutheran, if that helps…




    If you know your precinct you can look up the caucus location on this page.


    If you need to find your precinct number and don’t have your voter card handy, you can enter your name at the king county elections page:


    remember polling places are not caucus locations (though they can be)

    My guess would be West Seattle High school if your in the same precinct as Hope Lutheran, otherwise you need to look it up.

    There is also a caucus finder for the whole state at:


    But it seems to be a bit slow indicating a lot of traffic. Actually after trying it several times it looks like it tipped over from the load…

    and finally there is this map from king county. It is a somewhat large pdf file but you can zoom in to your location and see the boundary streets and precinct numbers.




    thanks so much, Ken! :)



    Ken, turns out i didn’t get my voter registration changed here in time to actually vote at the caucus, but it is my understanding that i can still come to comment. is that true?



    If you live here you can caucus.

    The Dems use the honor system. You can fill out the form at the caucus if you like or just go ahead and do it online or by mail in/ downloaded form and though you will not have changed it officially enough to vote in the primary (sec of state makes those rules), it is still good enough for the Dem caucus.

    There will also be forms to fill out if anyone wants to join the 34th district Democrats.

    The online form and info is here:


    We will also be begging for donations at the caucus since the local district organization pays for the meeting rooms, and all expenses for the caucus which takes a big bite out of what we can give to local candidates (Darcy Burner in the 8th, Gov Gregoire etc..) later in the year. It is NOT tax deductible since it is political and there are many who cannot afford to donate. No one is turned away.

    We never carry any more than the required newsletter postage over into the month after a general election.

    The next 9 months will be the push for our nominee and the other state and national races. If you want to join with your neighbors and make a difference this is the time.



    ok ken, you have convinced me… but you may be sorry …. it’s been said that i have a big mouth ;-0

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