Voter Turned Away From Colorado Caucus for Being One Minute Late

The turnout for yesterday's Colorado caucus, during which Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders bested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was far beyond expectations.

But not every story had a happy ending.

For instance, we heard from one person who wasn't allowed to participate because he arrived in line one minute late — and he stresses that he wasn't alone.

"I was one of more than fifty turned away at 7:01 at Moore Middle School in Arvada," the reader wrote via e-mail. "I drove by the school at 6:35, but it took me until 6:50 to find a parking spot in a nearby subdivision. Upon arriving at the end of a three block-long line at 7:01, I was told I was 'too late.' The bearer of bad news was a volunteer, former State Senator Evie Hudak, who asked those of us standing behind the 7 o’clock cut-off spot in the line to 'please leave.'"

Voters flooded to caucus locations throughout the city, including in my area of unincorporated Jefferson County.

It's a longtime Republican stronghold, which may be why volunteers at Chatfield High School were expecting about ninety people to show up. However, the school wound up packed with people — so many that some participants had a hard time navigating the throng and finding designated classrooms in which their preferences could be recorded.

In addition, there were wide discrepancies in procedure from room to room, with some groups weighing in only on the presidential aspirants and others considering a wide slate of candidates and issues.

Meanwhile, as noted by 7News, some caucus-goers actually had to meet outside, including a percentage of those at East High School. But at least they got to weigh in, unlike the Arvada voter who contacted us.

"This may be a good barometer for voter turnout in November, but it surely ruffled a lot a feathers Tuesday night," he pointed out, adding, "It raises the question of the validity of the caucus system into full view, as people from across metro Denver have similar stories. A lot of people gave up after seeing the long lines and congested traffic and parking. Through it all, I thought about all of the voters in poor neighborhoods in Cleveland and elsewhere, who during the general election in 2012 didn't get the chance to vote. For too many of us, it felt like that last night."

Here's a 7News report about last night's events.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts