Parties brace for record Colo. caucus turnout |

Parties brace for record Colo. caucus turnout

Steven K. Paulson
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Democrats and Republicans are bracing for what they expect will be a record turnout for Colorado’s caucuses on Tuesday, including plans to deal with overflow crowds after problems were reported in Nevada’s caucuses last week.

“We’ve told precinct captains to be ready. We want to make sure we could accommodate what could be record numbers,” said Democratic Party spokesman Matt Sugar.

Democratic Party precinct captains were given special training to deal with overflow crowds to make sure everyone in line by 7 p.m. gets to participate, even if there are still long lines waiting to get in.

Republican Party spokesman Richard Wadhams said he’s also ready for record numbers.

Pollster Floyd Ciruli said caucuses typically attract less than 5 percent of registered partisan voters. But even with the poorly understood system this year, at least double the historic numbers of voters are expected, or more than 200,000 partisans.

Both parties said they hope to have the results of Colorado’s presidential preference polls by Tuesday night and that they expect few problems, despite the projected turnout.

Caucus-goers reported various problems across Nevada on Saturday after large numbers of voters showed up to participate.

Many of the record 116,000 Democrats and 44,000 Republicans complained about long lines, cramped conditions, loud noise and disorganization. Some precincts temporarily ran out of ballots and other supplies because of the unexpected crush.

Representatives of both major political parties in Nevada acknowledged problems, but said they were unavoidable because of the heavy turnout by many people who had never participated in a caucus before.

Like Nevada, Colorado did away with its presidential primary four years ago to save money.

Steve Fenberg, executive director of New Era Colorado, which promotes political participation by young voters, said his group registered more than 4,000 new voters this fall in Boulder.

He said participation has been strong.

“The energy surrounding the 2008 election is really amazing. I think this is the year that young people prove their power as a serious player in the U.S. electorate. The caucus system is traditionally only for party loyalists, but it’s clear that something very different is happening this year,” Fenberg said.

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