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Democratic Party Chair Weighs Caucus Versus Primary

Kyle Green
Idaho Statesman
Thousands of Democrats snake through Downtown Boise, waiting to get into the presidential caucus. The high turnout delayed the start of the caucus.

People stood for hours Tuesday in a line that snaked around several blocks of downtown Boise for a chance to take part in the Idaho Democratic Caucuses. In Bannock County, party faithfuls stood outside in a snowstorm, waiting for their chance. In many parts of Idaho, the caucus system was overwhelmed by an enthusiastic turnout.

Caucuses across the state were expected to close the doors at 7 p.m. Mountain Time. But the line in downtown Boise had already wrapped around three city blocks an hour before the event was supposed to begin, forcing the delay.

Bert Marley is Chairman of the Idaho State Democratic Party. He says he watched people stand in line - in the snow - to caucus in Bannock County. But he says people were still excited about taking part.

“There were long lines and there were some glitches, but there’s long lines in primaries sometimes, probably not as long as we saw in Boise, but it’s part of the process,” says Marley.

Despite the long lines, Marley says he’s excited and pleased with a statewide, record-breaking turnout of 24,000.

Now the Party is taking a close look at whether to continue the caucus system, or go to a primary like Republicans. Marley says there’s a lot of talk about moving away from caucuses.

“It’s an interesting system. I think a lot of people are ready to move to the primary and we’ll just see how that goes. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see, four years from now, that the Democrats here in Idaho will be primary, but that’s just my personal opinion,” says Marley.

He says 10,000 people registered online to participate in the caucus, just on Tuesday. That last-minute rush overwhelmed the system. If the Democrats do stick with a caucus, Marley says he wants to make some changes to get people to sign up earlier, giving organizers more time to prepare for large crowds.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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