Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nominating Procedures

In Dryden candidates for local office are nominated either by Primary Election (Republicans) or Party Caucus (Democrats). To be nominated by Primary Election, a candidate's supporters collect signatures on a designating petition. If more than one candidate submits a petition with sufficient signatures each candidate's name appears on the ballot in a Primary Election in which registered party members vote using the traditional lever voting machines at the same public polling places used in general elections. Party support for petitioning and campaigning for the primary is definitely helpful but not essential.

To be nominated by Party Caucus, candidates or their supporters attend a meeting of registered members of the party. The date and place of the meeting vary from year to year. Candidates and their supporters may speak. There may be questions and answers. There may be debate. Eventually a vote is taken and the winner is nominated. The Caucuses I've attended have been fairly straightforward. The party has done a good job of recruiting and the candidates have widespread support. But there are some good local stories about years when more than one candidate for a position showed up with enough supporters to create quite a controversy and a truly "democratic" face-to-face, group process.

With all this in mind, it's been interesting to watch the Iowa Caucus process. Both parties have caucuses. The Republican caucus involves meeting and writing the name of the candidate you support on a piece of paper. The papers are collected, counted on the spot and results announced. The Democratic process has the added twist of eliminating any candidate who gets less than 15% of the first vote and calling for a second vote. People who voted for a candidate who was eliminated may vote for one of the remaining candidates. (see blog banner: "disorderly, give-and-take" vs "businesslike, cut-and-dried")

What I like about the Caucus process is that it's face to face, not in a voting booth behind a curtain. What I like about the Democratic Caucus process is the opportunity for face-to-face debate. On the other hand, although the caucus is open to all registered party members, it tends to attract people who are active party committee members. It's a little tougher to get involved than seeing the primary election notice and going to the familiar polling place. I hope in the coming year, we can reach out and encourage more Dryden Democrats to participate in our "rowdy, imaginative" process. I hope we can meet more often, not with agendas but with ideas and enthusiasm (and maybe a beer or glass of cider).

All that said, I'd like to resume the Wednesday Salons at my house. It's not a "special event." None of us seems to have the time or energy for that. But I'm at home the last Wednesday of the month and around 5:00 I'll be opening a decent bottle of wine whether or not anyone else is here. There's always a chance I'll be taking something interesting out of the oven - bread or cookies or such. And I'll welcome the company of any Democrat who'd like to chat. Call or email me if you know you'd like to come. But if you're not sure 'til the last minute, come anyway.


Post a Comment

<< Home