This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
If 1,500 people got locked out of the polls in a normal American election, citizens would be howling about Putinesque conspiracies and invoking the specter of Jim Crow and the literacy tests of yore. The U.S. Justice Department might even send in a SWAT team.
Yet 1,500 Republican voters got locked out of the party’s presidential nominating caucuses in the Tri-Cities on Saturday, and all that came of it was some griping.
One reason is obvious: There was no foul play. Republican organizers simply ran out of space in the Three Rivers Convention Center, which they’d rented for the occasion. Nine hundred had come to the 2008 caucuses; the party planned for 2,000 this time – but 3,000 or so actually showed up Saturday morning.
Another factor, less obvious: There’s no general expectation of caucus-going. The vast majority of Republicans and Democrats don’t go to them. Most voters probably don’t know what they are, exactly. A cynic might even say that nominating caucuses are all about exclusion in the first place.
Ordinary folks have routinely been locked out of the parties’ caucuses, figuratively, every four years.
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