Anne Rooney listened to the sound of the dial tone for a moment in shock before hanging up the phone. Since volunteering to host a caucus in her home, she'd been yelled at, hung up on and generally treated like a telephone solicitor as she worked her way through the phone list of the 200-plus Democrats who live in her precinct.
On Tuesday night, registered Republicans and Democrats from the 20 precincts in Routt County are invited to attend caucuses in their neighborhood to learn about political issues and candidates. Like the one in Rooney's home, open to Democrats from Precinct 1, attendees will discuss local, state and national issues; candidates, and will vote for delegates who will proceed to the county assembly.
Caucuses traditionally are held in homes of community members and are open to the public. Any person may attend a caucus, but only those registered with the political party may vote at a caucus.
Unlike a primary, where every voter casts a vote for a candidate, caucuses involve meetings where groups of people support a candidate and choose delegates who will represent their opinion at the county convention.
After Rooney's initial experience of trying to round up attendees, she hopes that voters are not as apathetic as they seemed on the telephone.
"Have people just given up?" she said. "I get the feeling that there's so much apathy, because people feel powerless."
This is her first year as a caucus chairwoman, and it has been a learning experience.
"At this caucus, we intend to be educating ourselves in the process," she said. "We are still stumbling through this.
"We have a list of instructions to follow (for the night of the caucus), and we will follow them the best we can."
Harmon "Buck" Buckland, chairman of the Routt County Republican committee, said Routt County hosts caucuses every election year, but more people, such as Rooney, are learning the process for the first time because of an increased interest in the state of local and national politics.
"From the county to the state to the national elections this year there are quite some contests," he said. "Just by talking to people, I think there is a lot more interest in this election."
Each of the 20 precincts will be holding a caucus for each party with the exception of Precinct 18, which lacks the population.
Attendees will discuss the candidates for all the offices in the county, state and national elections. They will be electing delegates for the county assembly, which will be held May 8 in the Colorado Mountain College gymnasium.
Delegates at the county assembly will elect delegates to attend the state assembly June 4, and delegates at the state assembly will elect representatives to the national assembly.
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