Maine Caucus Hardly Vision of Democracy

Tough sledding for ill, elderly in process Times scribe sees as ungainly
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2008 4:47 PM CST
Caucusing voters gather for Barack Obama Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008, at the Democratic Caucus in Papillion, Neb. Thousands of people statewide overflowed school gyms and stood in groups on Saturday to be...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – In order to vote in the South Portland, Maine, caucus Sunday, Democrats had to squat for three hours on high-school gym bleachers, braving speeches by local candidates and on behalf of presidential contenders before they could dash to their candidate’s corner. The New York Times’ Gail Collins hung in there, but she’s none too happy with the state of democratic process.

There exists the “impression abroad that these caucuses are grass-roots democracy,” but the chaotic events actually depress turnout and make voting a marathon. A chemotherapy patient left Collins’ caucus when the going got tough; that an “elderly lady with hip problems stuck it out” should earn her a Medal of Freedom. And Maine’s just a small state: Collins “can’t wait for Texas.”