by Ralph Routon
Two days and numerous conversations after attending my precinct caucus Tuesday night, I feel compelled to make a suggestion:
The time has come for state of Colorado to do away with party caucuses as part of the election-year process. The idea of caucuses is outdated, they don't really decide anything, and they're attended almost totally by people who already are involved actively in some way with their party or a candidate.
As a well-known local attorney, a Republican, told me earlier today, "The party didn't do anything, really, to get people to go to the caucuses. It was just insiders. No rank-and-file voters at all."
This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This is a bipartisan matter. It's a waste of money and time for a lot of people to continue having caucuses every two years. Forget about the value of precinct caucuses selecting delegates to county assemblies. Just open up the county assemblies for anyone, and let the election-year process begin there.
Then the parties don't have dozens of poorly trained, ill-prepared or miscast caucus leaders. Or, as I saw Tuesday in Manitou Springs, two separate well-trained and prepared caucus leaders, both of whom conducted their caucuses with just one other participant. (They might mean well, but...)
Instead, if for each party, everyone would gather in one larger place at the county level, they would hear the same well-crafted presentations, the same information and candidate speeches, and then take care of their business.
None of that requires having a caucus first, even in a presidential year. And when they have to deal with computing and reporting results of straw votes in prominent races, the volunteer precinct leaders might not always be totally accurate.
So let's hope for some kind of state legislation before 2012, changing Colorado's election process and burying the caucuses, once and for all. If the state wants to have an early presidential primary, that would be a different process ... and handled an actual election, not a straw poll.
But no more caucuses, please.