A confusing Republican caucus a hassle

By on March 9, 2016
Student Opinion

By Christopher Acree–

There have been plenty of adjectives to describe the current national presidential primaries – hardly any of them are good and most feature curse words.

“I feel like this election is very dog-eat-dog,” junior Allie Olsen said. “It’s kind of nasty. Everybody seems more angry. I almost don’t want to vote for anyone.”

But Olsen did her civic duty and participated in the Kentucky Republican Caucus on March 5. She joined thousands of others to vote for which of the remaining four candidates they thought should be the party’s nominee.

While Olsen had a short 15-minute drive to the caucus location in Oldham County, sophomore communication major Marissa Stewart knew it was going to be much more of a hassle for her. Lacking an absentee ballot, she traveled almost two hours to her home in Henderson County to cast her ballot.

“I had to miss certain obligations with my sorority because I wanted to go vote,” Stewart said. “A good friend of mine had a test and other obligations here in Louisville so she was unable to go home and vote because she just couldn’t make it down in time.”

The caucus had less voting sites than a regular primary with fewer hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This time slot completely encompassed a work shift for many college students. The Saturday date and time also conflicted with many other events on and off campus.

Last August, Kentucky’s Republican Party changed their presidential nominating process from a May primary to a March caucus when the race is still in contention – as it is this year. The state can have a bigger role in nominating a presidential candidate and means candidates and national media may actually pay attention to us. Both Ben Carson and Donald Trump made appearances in the Bluegrass this year. In prior election cycles, potential presidents only stopped in Kentucky if they really needed to take a crap on the way to a more important state.

Some could argue the real reason was to allow U.S. Senator Rand Paul to run for both senate and the presidency simultaneously, which would have been against Kentucky law had it remained a primary state.

The RPK could almost be accused of hiding this caucus deliberately.

While the RPK was eager to make this change, they did not spend much money advertising the change in date and voting format, instead relying on social media and word of mouth. This led to a lot of confusion about the specifics of the caucus. And any confusion among the general public, who actually have time to pay attention to this stuff, could certainly be amplified when it came to college students.

The most famous caucus in Iowa which kicks off the national primary voting season and can make or break a candidate in a matter of hours. The Iowa caucus basically features a full day of speeches, proposals for national party platforms and odd occurrences like district ties being broken via coin flip.

Fortunately for voters, they didn’t have to stick around to forcibly listen to speeches and could just walk in, fill out their ballot and leave.

Stewart and Olsen said they didn’t see too many people their age at the caucus sites. Many sites reported long lines, confusion about voting rules and regulations and other problems usually associated with election days, though perhaps greater due to the recent change in format.

Olsen and Stewart stressed the importance of public involvement in things like voting.

“You don’t have any room to complain if you’re not getting out there to go vote,” Stewart said. “If you’re not making any effort at all to participate in that right you have then I don’t want to hear it if something doesn’t go your way when the next president comes along.”

 

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