Thanks for this thorough explanation! Sounds like you're doing the best you can with the system you've inherited. I was phonebanking for a candidate earlier tonight and had the chance to learn more about the virtual caucus/convention.Short answer to your question is Minneapolis process follows the state party process which follows the national party process. While I prefer more flexibility myself, "that's the way it's always been" is the rule we have to follow or we don't exist as a party unit. For example, this year we developed and proposed a one-step process of approval voting for candidates. It was legit really awesome and pretty much everyone in Minneapolis I spoke with was into the idea/had already been asking for it like you just did. The state party said no, you gotta elect delegates at the precinct level. So we started over.Since you're here, can I ask why the Minneapolis DFL insists on giving endorsement to just a single candidate in each race? In a basically one-party town, with ranked-choice elections, I'd very much prefer a system where the Mpls DFL endorses all candidates that agree to a platform or central tenets and meet a certain threshold of support. I'll wait and see how this year's online process goes, but I'm not ever planning on attending another ward convention or citywide convention that sticks to the terrible practice of multiple rounds of balloting, wasting an entire day of people's time with a confusing and unwelcoming process, which more often than not leads to "no endorsement". Literally no one enjoys or defends that endorsement process, yet it endures...and it's really hard to understand why. If you don't agree with allowing endorsement of multiple candidates, then we need to move to a single-round, ranked-choice endorsement contest.
As for wasting people's time, well, that's what it's like when everyone else runs it. I've been chair for 3 years and still have not had an opportunity to put on an in-person convention and disprove that conventions must be shitty and on "random" days. We spent 2019 setting and advertising the dates for 2020-2021-2022. School Board endorsements are during even years and in 2020 we planned to have MPS students do performances during downtime, ask the candidate questions, and so on. For 2021 we planned to have a "seated" convention with people at tables instead of the auditorium. We intended to spend 5 figures on electronic balloting that would cut the whole thing in half, if not more. We still intend to do this in 2022, plus have a DJ and emcee. A lot has to do with getting the right convention chairs, and I'm pleased to say a number of younger people are now qualified to run a beast like a Minneapolis City Convention.
Part of it is also setting expectations. When the letter you get on caucus night says "Registration at 10 am, convening at 11 am" and the candidates don't speak until 1 pm and first vote is at 3 pm, people are rightfully angry. So be realistic about the timeline, and telegraph to people they can wait until after it "starts" before showing up, plus all the other things I mentioned to cut down time.
Caucuses are another story. There are 134 precincts in Minneapolis and therefore 134 caucuses. A Minneapolis precinct needs 4-5 volunteers in order to run smoothly. We are lucky to get 1 volunteer in some precincts. By nature, this is guaranteed to give an uneven experience throughout the city. We've identified ~10 precincts that are always wonky and plan to target them with investments (sound systems, translators, extra volunteers). But, we need volunteers. Many people show up, have a shitty experience, and vow to never participate again. Can't blame them but then you're left with the same volunteers year after year. Hoping this year will re-set people's faith in "the process."
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