I left home about 6:20 p.m.- as all of the news outlets had said that it was important to arrive by 6:30 p.m. to be sure you were registered and could participate at 7:00 p.m. I arrived at my destination (or so I thought) and saw NO lights on in the Rockwell Community Center. Now, I do not venture into the town of Rockwell, Iowa very often, but this was my voting venue. At this point I called a neighbor and asked her where the Rockwell Community Center was located, as I did not see a name on the building. She confirmed that I had arrived in the correct place. She then told me that the Democratic Caucus for our township had been moved to Mason City, about 10 miles away. So, I said to her, "Where do the Republicans go?" She replied, "I'm not sure!" I was thinking to myself- "Am I the only person that does not know where to go?" There were no other idiots like me sitting in their cars in front of this building..Ugghhh..
A quick phone call to my sister in Minneapolis- she locates some online information and she has nailed down two possible locations for our township. I then head to the school in town, and she confirms this might be the location. Now- this Caucus thing in Iowa is a pretty big deal, and there are no signs- nothing to confirm that I am in the right location. I try to open four doors- I kid you not, LOCKED! At this point I am ready to go home...And low and behold, a young teen opens the door for me. I then wander into the school, yes this Mom was wandering........
After a little wandering I see a fairly large sized room all lit up and I asked if this was my voting location for my township. Yes, I had arrived. By this point I was not a happy woman....I did feel bad for the volunteers in this location as I was not one of their happy campers of the night. After I had "chilled" for about a minute I was asked if I had registered. Well...Duhhhhh.......Nope! Nobody told me that I needed to register upon entering and since I later learned I had entered in the back entrance, let's just say I kind of skipped the table.
So, I am now calm and ready to get this caucus thing on the road. I was given the sheet of paper to check for my name for voter registration. Yes, I am a registered voter in the state of Iowa, as I did vote in the last school election, a few months ago. So, there should NOT be a problem. Well, wrong! My name and my husband's names are no where to be found on this form. Now I am informed that I need to reregister as a voter in the state of Iowa- OK, I do get it....I am probably an Independent voter and not on the Republican list. I fill out the paperwork and what's scary to me.....I was not asked for any identification. Now let me just say that I had met these people at this caucus event 10 minutes ago, and I do not know these people running the show here.
7:00 p.m. rolls around. At this point I am wondering how many people have showed up at the "wrong" location and just went back home. All in all a fairly good turnout for three townships, at least I thought so. The Iowa Caucus is now in session. I recall a caucus being a time to share your candidates views, etc. We were given our voting forms and told to vote. I'm thinking to myself.....this is not how I remember a caucus was. We all vote......Votes are ready to be tallied.
The person in charge announces that there has been a mistake, as people were not given the chance to speak on behalf of a candidate of choice. So...after much discussion- the first votes were torn up- by this point, my brain is spinning! Each candidate has their name read and there are people that want to speak for some of the candidates (this is what makes this a grass roots event). So, it's a good thing those original votes were tossed out.
We have great discussion......we vote - again! This time all is good.........The votes are tallied and let me share that in this small group of rural Iowa folks, it's a close race folks. Here's the break down- Romney (8), Paul (8), Gingrich (10), Perry (3), Santorum (9), Bachmann (8). I found these numbers amazing- All very close.........
The lessons I learned while caucusing in Iowa
- Next time I will confirm my voter location before I head out, not one week before.
- Next time I will make sure I am registered in the party that I want to vote for at least a month before.
- Next time I will volunteer to help out at the caucus site. I cannot handle all the disorganization, so I will step up to the plate and help out next time.
So you see, I have a lot of next times- A fun time caucusing in the great state of Iowa! Next time the process will be an event that I actually enjoy! This Mom refuses to accept the disorganization that I experience tonight. I truly understand why people stay home and refuse to participate...So, Next time will be a much better experience for all. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?