Today was the Washington State Democratic Caucus. They are like the primaries I used to vote at in California, but everybody gets together publicly and votes in person to determine the number of delegates each candidate will get. The candidate with the most delegates wins the state.
Washington state also holds a primary as well as a caucus, this FAQ from the WA State Democrat website:
Why is Washington State having Caucuses and a Primary? The Washington State Legislature was the body who voted to hold a primary. The means that the Washington State Democratic Party, which chooses how delegates are decided, had no participation in the decision to hold the primary, which will cost $9 to $10 million. The Washington State Democratic Party decided to choose their delegates through the Caucuses, as it always has. As a result, your vote for a Democratic candidate in the State Primary will not count toward delegate selection.
So basically if you are a democrat and use the normal mail-in ballot for the primary, your vote doesn't count! I found this out 2 hours before the caucus started. So Max and I went to the Sacajawea Middle School cafeteria where our caucus was being held. We were all grouped together according to our precinct. We signed in and wrote down which candidate we were supporting. Our precinct's Caucus Chairperson Jane Cunningham had someone tally the votes, out of 108 votes, over 70 were for Obama, there was 20 something votes for Hillary and 9 people were undecided. Then people for each candidate could speak to try to sway the undecideds to their candidate. Of the 9, seven went to Obama and two remained undecided. Of our precinct's twelve delegates, nine went to Obama and only three went to Hillary. Then came the time to vote for the delegates, which went like this: if you wanted to be a delgate you went around to other people in your precinct and said hey, write my name down. Everyone voted for nine delgates and I ended up being an alternate because they need nine of those too. So on April 5th I will get to go to the Legislative district Caucuses, although I probably won't get to vote unless delegates don't show up.
Here is my ticket! Also, we got these blue rubber bracelets that say 56MILLIONSTRONG. What is 56 million strong? Obama supporters? People who wear blue bracelets? We guessed it must be 56 million democrats, but who knows?
So the caucuses started out seemingly disorganized but in the end (2 hours later)everything was done and the delegates were chosen. I have to say the the primaries I used to vote in were much less time consuming, but you didn't get to stand with your neighbors and be involved. I prefer the latter.