Saturday was the Democratic caucus in Alaska, as well as in other states, and while the turnout appeared to be large, this method of selecting a candidate kept a lot of would-be voters out.
If some find it hard to take time to check a few boxes on a Tuesday, the caucus, despite being on a weekend, is an insurmountable challenge for many.
As someone who has been heavily involved in politics over the years, it was natural that friends would come to me with questions. Mostly, the only answer I could give was, “Sorry, you’re out of luck.”
One friend, an Alaska resident and homeowner, is currently out of state as a traveling nurse. Is there any way she could participate in selecting the Democratic nominee from outside of Alaska, she asked? The answer is no, at least not as an Alaska-registered voter. You have to be there in person to count in Alaska.
Another friend, a single dad, called me at 10:27 a.m., almost to Centennial Hall after dropping off his son. Would he be able to get in, he asked? Only if he could get there within three minutes. He arrived at 10:31 a.m. and was turned away.
I have two friends interested in participating, but they work on Saturdays. People who work on weekends often work in jobs that offer less flexibility for taking off even briefly. Heading to the polls to vote in a traditional manner, with a large window of time — even larger with early voting — would have allowed their voices to be heard, but the demands of the caucus kept these two from participating.
Sure, some people chose sleeping in or brunch over caucusing, but for many there wasn’t really a choice at all. They wanted to participate in democracy, but the caucus process is too demanding and thoroughly inflexible and unforgiving.
For the party that prides itself in championing voter access, sticking with the caucus method is preposterous. If we as a society want more participation in democracy, we should make it accessible to everyone, including traveling nurses, single dads and workers with odd hours.