By Hannah Lachow
Moderately informed Americans take away a couple of numbers and perhaps a few sound bites from the extensive media coverage of the Iowa Caucus. The intricacies of the first
formal voting event remain a mystery hidden behind headlines, but they are actually quite significant. This year, former Advanced Placement Government student Sonia Storck ’15 was in Iowa to experience a Democratic caucus firsthand.
The caucus at Grinnell College’s Harris Center held the most delegates of all locations within Iowa: 26. Of the approximately 930 registered people, 665 stood for Sen. Bernie Sanders, giving him 19 delegates. The remaining seven were allocated to Hilary Clinton. Storck herself was one of the 245 people who stood behind Clinton.
“A.P. Gov definitely helped me decide who to vote for,” she commented, “I went back and forth between Hillary and Bernie for a while but I used everything I learned about our government to finally conclude that for a number of reasons Hillary would be the right choice for me.”
At the caucus, Storck was shuffled between rooms and perplexed by what occurred with the Martin O’Malley supporters. The O’Malley group was not large enough to be viable, so they strategically negotiated with the Clinton and Sanders camps to form deals. Storck is still unsure of the details, because most of these interactions occurred behind closed doors. “This was the most interesting thing to me,” said Storck, “Everyone here is still talk- ing about what happened with the O’Malley supporters, but no one really understands.”
In a race this close, every vote matters. The Harris Center caucus did not treat it as such. According to Storck, the process was haphazard. “The Bernie group was counted by everyone raising their hands and then someone walking around tapping people’s heads.” This mess left Storck doubtful of the entire caucus process. With about 40 votes apparently unaccounted for, Storck feels that the caucus method is not reliable. “I honestly don’t think a caucus should hold such a huge role in determining elections,” she said.
Despite her frustration with the caucus process itself, Storck has been reaping the perks of living in Iowa during an election year for months now. Sanders, Clinton and O’Malley, along with Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, New York City May- or Bill de Blasio and other well- known figures have been on and off campus for some time trying to plant support and vie for the youth vote. At the caucus, Storck spoke with Mayor de Blasio and even put him in contact with a group of A.P. Government students via Face- time. De Blasio enthusiastically conveyed the excitement in Iowa: “You have to go to an Iowa caucus one day. It is grassroots democracy on speed.”
Photo courtesy of Sonia Storck