DP Eyewitness: Several Hundred People Turned Away-Benton County WA-PHOTOS ADDED!Submitted by westcoastgrl on Sat, 03/03/2012 - 18:02
I am not exaggerating when I say SEVERAL HUNDRED. Our entire county caucus was consolidated to a single location, our local Three Rivers Convention Center. The GOP website said they would close registration at 9:45 am SHARP. I showed up at 9:20, and the lobby was packed, the entire side hallway was packed, and the line streamed out the door into the parking lot.
At 10:00 am, someone got on the loudspeaker and told the crowd that they wanted to get everyone in and not disenfranchise anyway, and to make things easier for them, we should queue into two lines: One line for people who had their voter's registration cards, and one line for people who showed up only with I.D.
Mayhem ensued as the massive crowd attempted to shift into two lines without being rude and cutting in front of anyone. It was a confused mess.
At 10:30, someone got on the loudspeaker and told us that:
1) If you have not yet been "accredited" you will not be allowed to vote, and that voting had already begun.
2) They did not have room to accommodate everyone anyway.
They asked us to go home, and people began booing, hissing, and shouting. Then the chanting began, "We have a right to vote! We have a right to vote!"
I pressed to the front of the line, and told the volunteers up front I had a right to be there, and to at least witness the proceedings. I found my precinct number online, and found my precinct.
The voting was held in two separate chambers of the convention center- one room was filled to capacity (the smaller room). The main chamber had an entire empty section, with 6-8 or more empty tables. I took a few photos and don't know how to upload them here.
The representatives for each candidate were just beginning to come to the podium to speak, several minutes after I entered the chamber.
So they lied! 1) Voting had NOT begun. 2) There were entire precincts, some with 6-7 delegates, that were EMPTY. They didn't let the voters in!!!
There was no order: No one called point of order, no process was followed. The reps spoke their piece, we were told to vote, we voted, they collected the envelopes, and that was it!
No results were given- they told the crowd that results would be released in a couple of hours, and no one made any noise.
When I left the chamber, I noticed that the crowd in the lobby had mostly dispersed, probably because they called the police when the crowd got angry. There was a line of police out in the lobby when I came out.
Please call the Benton County GOP, the Washington State Republican Party, and the media. I called the campaign and gave them my report. I hope that the spotlight is shined on Benton County for cutting off hundreds of people who have the right to vote. Unbelievable! It should be national news!
On the positive side, I found my precinct, and was the tiebreaker! Our precinct only has one delegate, but I am proud to say that our delegate is a fellow RP supporter and that I made the difference for our precinct by not listening to the B.S. that I had to be "accredited" in order to vote. I am an American and a registered voter. That's all the accreditation I need!
Edit* I originally reported "Toyota Center" as the location- which is right next to the Three Rivers Convention Center-the actual location. I always mix them up.
Also- My timing is slightly off. I reported that they asked us to disperse at 10:30. When I talked to Michelle Dupler (local reporter who wrote the Tri City Herald article, she reported showing up at 10:23 with the crowd already leaving. It may have been closer to 10:15-10:20 when they got on the loudspeaker a second time.
Is it possible to upload photos? I have photos of the crowd in the lobby, AND of empty precinct tables!! Help!
Picture of the unbelievable crowd in the lobby:
Here's the wrap-around line down the side hall (tons of people outside, too)
Photo of empty precinct table:
I wish I had taken pictures of EVERY empty precinct table-but I didn't. I was just snapping quick photos while looking for my precinct. :(