Inside a Texas caucus
The Texas two-step voting process
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST: I’m in Austin Texas at the second step of the Texas two-step. People have already voted in the primary today, and now they’ve come back to their polling stations to take part in the caucusing. There was an unbelievable turnout tonight, and most people had to wait in line for over an hour.
STREETER 1: People are signing in, and they have to prove that they voted, which means their voter card was stamped, or they received a ticket at the time they voted. Someone has to look them up on the rolls. It’s kind of confusing, because half the people in charge are Obama people and half the people in charge are Clinton people, and so there’s just a little jockeying going on in there.
STREETER 2: These are the Obama supporters. And they’re here to sign in. They’re going to officially sign in in support of Obama. And over here you have the Clinton group. All the Clinton supporters will eventually become the Clinton caucus. After everybody has signed in on both sides, the precinct chair will count the number of names for both sides and will determine how many delegates will go from each caucus. So once we finish signing in, everybody’s going to move inside, and we’re going to start the official precinct convention. We will get together in groups and nominate and elect delegates to the county convention.
PALEVSKY: Have you ever done this before?
STREETER 3: Never. This is my first time. I’m very excited about that.
STREETER 4: I have not *done this before.
PALEVSKY: *Never? Have you lived in Texas for awhile?
STREETER 4: Yes, 63 years.
STREETER 5: Well, we’re really excited, because we feel like, you know, the first time in 20 years that Texas can make a difference.
STREETER 6: It is my first time I’m eligible. Yeah. So I made sure to take it and [inaudible] because you can’t pass nothing like this up. It’s the first time in history an African-American candidate has actually been successful in a campaign in the race towards being the next president of the United States of America. Second, because I’m looking for immediate changes in the United States government as far as economics, as far as media, as far as education, as far as healthcare.
PALEVSKY: Why Hillary?
STREETER 7: There’s a lot of things personally going on in my life—student loans, parents having trouble with their mortgages, foreclosures. Four years ago, a campaign of promises might have been alright, and four years from now a campaign of promises might be okay. But as of right now, the country is in too bad of a state because of George Bush that we can’t afford a campaign of promises. I want somebody who has a track record.
PALEVSKY: What do you think of the Texas two-step?
STREETER 8: I think everyone needs to play it.
STREETER 9: I think it’s a little confusing. I mean, I get e-mails and stuff about it, and I still don’t really understand what I’m doing, but I just know that I’m helping. So, I mean, that sounds really bad, but it’s a little confusing.
STREETER 10: I think it’s going to discourage voter participation, and I think it needs to be done away with completely. I think we should be a primary state, where we go in and cast a vote and let that 攀戀 that.
STREETER 11: I’ve been to the caucuses before, but they don’t usually get this much attention. So usually there’s about 10 people. So seeing this is really astounding. It’s really exciting seeing so many people here willing to participate in both parts of the process. You know, I’m really excited ’cause this is going on.
PALEVSKY: And you’ve been to this location before to caucus?
STREETER 11: Yes.
PALEVSKY: And what does it usually look like?
STREETER 11: Usually there’s a very small crowd of people gathered in a very large room. Sometimes there aren’t even enough people to make an official caucus. So, like I said, the—.
PALEVSKY: How many people do you need to make an official caucus?
STREETER 11: Four.
SPEAKER: The floor is open for nominations of permanent share.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I nominate Robin Schneider.
SPEAKER: All those in favor say aye.
SPEAKER: And you can move into your caucuses now, actually, and start assembling the lists of potential delegates. Okay? So why don’t—the Clinton folks over there, the Obama folks over here.
PALEVSKY: Twenty-nine delegates and 29 alternates?
STREETER 12: Well, it’s for the precinct. The precinct has been assigned the 58 people for they can send to the county convention.
PALEVSKY: And I’m not sure there’s 58 people here who are willing to do it. What happens then?
STREETER 12: There’s, like, a week or two where the party tries to fill in some spots from the known voters in the precinct. That’s the job that the precinct chair will probably manage.
STREETER 13: Been here since just before the polls closed at 7:00.
PALEVSKY: So how long has that been?
STREETER 13: I think it’s going on three—I don’t even know what time it is. It’s, like, going on three hours at this point.
STREETER 14: Yeah. High-five.
STREETER 15: It’s almost 10:00.
PALEVSKY: Do you guys feel civically engaged?
STREETER 16: Yes
STREETER 15: Extremely.
STREETER 17: Civically hungry.
STREETER 18: It’s possible that the Texas system is a little bit overly convoluted, but I think getting people together to elect the—if we just had a caucus alone, I think it would be a very important part. I think this is a great way of getting people together and inspiring them to be a part of the political process.
PALEVSKY: After a nearly three-hour process of waiting in line outside, signing your name down and who you support, people behind me have finally gotten to the point where they’ve chosen the delegates that will represent them at the county convention. And this district has chosen 29 delegates. Ten of them will represent Clinton, and 19 of them will represent Obama. It’s a long and arduous Texas two-step for just one vote.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.