Idaho for Bernie!

Last night, March 22, Idaho held its Democratic Presidential caucus. As one of the most conservative states in the nation, Idaho has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Any Democrat running for local or state office holds a very slim chance of winning.

Idaho already held their Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, March 8, supporting Ted Cruz as the Republican candidate for President.

Anyone who voted in the Republican Primary could not participate in the Democratic Caucus. So large numbers were not expected to caucus last night for the Democratic Presidential candidate.

Except Bernie Sanders came to Idaho just before the caucus. He held a rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls this past Friday, March 18. The crowd of about 3000 filled the school gym to capacity. People were turned away. Here is a photo of the Saturday headlines from our local paper:

'Feel the Bern!'

‘Feel the Bern!’

Bernie also rallied in Boise on Monday, March 21, and drew a crowd of about 7000 people. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, never visited Idaho. Okay, so winning our state only netted 27 convention delegates …

My brother Eric, and I caucused for Bernie Sanders in Bonnevillle County, a county with about 100,000 residents. The caucus was held at Skyline High School, in the same gym where Bernie held his rally. The doors closed at 7PM. We got there about 6:30. Wow! No parking left! We had pre-registered and stood in line to fill out pledge cards. Hillary supporters were directed to one side of the gym, Bernie supporters to the opposite side. We found seats near the top of the upper bleachers on Bernie’s side. I took a photo from my seat:

We're settled in

We’re settled in

It took a good half hour for everyone to settle after the doors closed. Here’s a picture of Hillary’s side, across the gym from where I’m sitting:

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I climbed out of my seat and walked to the side of the gym to capture the ‘Bernie’ side – to my left …

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Just below you see the ‘Undecided’ and again, to the right, the Hillary supporters:

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Meanwhile the pledge cards were counted, tallying up the exact numbers of supporters for each candidate:

Bernie – 947
Hillary – 209
Undecided- 82

Then we filled out the first ballots – pink ballots. These ballots were your first vote, but not your official vote. The Democratic party vounteers had made ballot packets except, they were a couple hundred short! The folks on the row behind us got their packets, we, in the row in front of them, had to wait…

Finally all the pink ballots are distributed. Then collected….

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Hey, wait for mine!

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The Hillary side chanted cheers for Hillary and stomped their feet. Followed by a roar and stomping on our side for Bernie.

Meanwhile, the volunteers had to count those first pink ballots, over 1200 of them, one by one … Sitting around a table on the gym floor below us. That took a while…

People got antsy and thirsty and got up out of their seats looking for restrooms. Parents with infants, filed toward the exits (diaper changing table anywhere?)…

Eric, I’ll take your photo!

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Then we heard speeches – three total, one for each candidate and one for the Undecided. Bernie’s speaker was a Cuban immigrant, passionate but difficult to understand. They were all a bit difficult to understand over the din of the crowd…

The Undecideds had to decide which candidate to swing to. The majority appeared to go to Hillary. That side of the gym would break out in cheers as the Undecideds filtered in, four at a time. Bernie won some too, but we were already a raucous horde.

Second ballot, blue. This was your official vote. You know, maybe you changed your mind. Blue ballots were distibuted.

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Filled out with pencil, and collected. There was a third ballot, maybe to elect the delegates, but we were ready to go. The crowd had already thinned greatly by the time we got our blue ballots in.

Home again by 9:45 (since it’s about an 8-minute drive from my house to Skyline High School).

I caucused for Bernie!

Bernie Sanders won Idaho by 78%. According to the Idaho Statesman, statewide results gave Bernie 18,640 votes (78%) to Hillary’s 5,065 votes (21%). The enormous turnout in Boise delayed the start of their caucus by two hours. At one point the line stretched more than four blocks with waits of three hours to enter. Over 9000 votes were cast in Boise, making it the largest caucus in U.S. history.

I’m proud to have participated in the political process!

One among the 10% of voters registered as Democrats in ultra-conservative Idaho.

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One Response to “Idaho for Bernie!”

  1. Pauline Says:

    YeaH for Bernie!! This ought to be a fantastic year!
    Enjoyed this BLOG

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