Caucus Chaos Right Here In East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/5/08-East Texas

Caucus Chaos Right Here In East Texas

It's being called "caucus chaos."  All of the state, people having to wait hours in line to cast their second democratic vote at Tuesday night's caucuses. In Houston, police were called to calm angry crowds who waited till past midnight. In East Texas, people were waiting outside as well.  Some East Texans KLTV spoke to, described their caucus experience as "miserable."

Doors wide open, a packed crowd inside, it was smooth sailing at Democratic caucus at Tyler City Hall but that wasn't the case at Kenneth Butler's Rusk County caucus in Overton Tuesday night.

"We were locked out in the cold, no lights, we had to use flashlights, there was porch light, but we had to use flashlights, some of the people left because they were irritated," Butler says.

He says the whole ordeal was completely unorganized, no one knowing what to do, not even the precinct chair.

"We saw that he needed help so we created a team. We got sheets of paper and we wrote everybody's names down that showed us their card, the city they lived in, who their candidate was," he explains.

Now Butler says he doesn't know if his, or the votes of the 50 other people there, will even count.  

"It probably wasn't done legitimately.  We did the best that we knew how at the time so that is a concern of all of ours," Butler says.

We did speak with the Rusk County Democratic Party Chair, Lorna Ward, over the phone. She wouldn't go on camera, but told us she has received several complaints about Tuesday night's caucuses and says there were several reasons for the chaos: precinct chairs not reading caucus instructions; not having enough volunteers; and the volunteers they did have, felt overwhelmed by the amount of people who showed up. 

The Gregg County Democratic party chair spoke with us, saying it all came down to a lack of preparation.

"The thing is Texans aren't used to have to caucus, even though we do it generally, we've already got a candidate by that time so it doesn't matter,"  says Steve Richardson, Gregg County Democratic Party Chair. "I think that people were not prepared for hundreds and hundreds of people, to have to sign those people up."

"I don't feel like it was our fault that they were not well staffed, they knew the caucus was coming, they should have been well staffed...this was too important," Butler says.

And now an important lesson learned that's bringing into question whether Texans will be doing the Texas two-step come four years from now.

The Gregg County Democratic Party Chair says they are proposing to do away with the two-step Democratic caucus, having only a primary instead.

As for Rusk County caucus voters, we've been told their votes will most likely count as long as a voter number is on there.

Tracy Watler Reporting, tracy@kltv.com

 

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