EDITORIAL | Scrapping caucuses should be primary

Rather than basking in the warmth of a beautiful Sunday in Seattle, a large number of people instead got heated during what has been described by many as a very frustrating Democratic legislative-district caucus experience.

People reported long delays, disorganized precincts, last-minute state party rule changes and incivility in the form of unproductive shouting matches about which candidates were most deserving of delegates.

Some caucusing in West Seattle reported showing up to their precincts at 1 p.m. and still being there after 8 p.m., which was likely tied up by, as one online poster wrote, “just shy of 200 speeches.” Someone at the 43rd District caucus reported 300 speeches just for Bernie Sanders.

Someone claiming to be a volunteer at the 11th Legislative District caucus apologized on Reddit for how long the process took, stating part of the issue was a lack of volunteers to handle the large lines but added there were other problems.

“It’s not all the party’s fault, since a lot of precinct captains didn’t hand out their certificates of election or didn’t fill out a secretary’s report noting who was actually elected,” the volunteer wrote. “I set up a partial electronic sign-in method, which meant we didn’t have to manually recount all of the sign-ins multiple times.”

Some Democrats went online to not only complain about the process but claimed they likely wouldn’t engage in it again.

Maybe soon they won’t need to. There’s talk in the state Democratic Party to vote to switch to a primary next year, which seems like a better way for voters to have their voices heard without engaging in a shouting match with people who disagree with them in the hope of swaying others to their side.

Sure, caucuses do help those undecided voters by putting them in the middle of some good debate — it isn’t always hot and heavy — but a primary format could encourage people to get involved and do their research sooner or force candidates to spend more time appealing to Washington voters.

While presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders swept the floor with Hillary Clinton during the March 26 Washington caucuses, many of his passionate supporters are super-mad at the 17 automatic Washington superdelegates going to the Democratic National Convention who likely will not shift their support away from the former secretary of state. Among them are eight Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Jay Inslee, who were backing Clinton before the March caucus and say they won’t change their minds.

Rather than wasting time with petitions or threatening these lawmakers with future votes against them if they don’t change their minds, the power of these legislators’ votes should be removed or, more precisely, equalized. The Democratic Party has the opportunity to chuck the superdelegates and all other delegates in favor of a simple open primary.

If the Democratic Party isn’t ready for such a massive change, perhaps it could respond to these complaints from engaged voters wanting to represent their interests and what’s best for the party by fixing the caucusing process and making it work more efficiently, so people can get in, make their case, assign delegates and still get out before the sun goes down — which is now well past 8 p.m.