Political Convention

I was an participant in the recent local Democratic convention. The process in Texas is strange and almost impossible to explain (which is why one of the resolutions voted on was whether or not to retain it). In short, some delegates are awarded to candidates based on the popular vote, and some are awarded based on the a precinct convention of delegates held after the primary. I was an alternate this year, and thus attended the convention for my senate district.

Democratic convention

Regardless of political persuasion, it was worth the time and effort to attend. I got to the gates at 6:45AM, to line up for the sign up beginning at 8AM. There were already some folks there, and by the time the gates opened there was a line of hundreds behind me. This convention has never seen a population bigger than about 700 people... and by the end of the registration period, there were more than 5,000 signed in. Amazing. It took more than 4 hours to get us all in the building. I am told there were 4 other conventions in the Houston area, and all of them had similar turnouts.

The day was amazing, frustrating, exhilarating, confusing, boring, and almost any other "ing" you could name. Each precinct had to sit together, which occasionally created friction between Obama and Clinton supporters. But our precinct stayed pretty friendly towards each other. Finally around 6:30PM or so we voted (each precinct elects one delegate and one alternate to go to the state convention in August) for our delegate and alternate. I am grateful that I did not get elected for that position.

The crowding was quite intense. In fact we used all the folding chairs that were available, and ended up spilling out of the building onto courtyards and patios. Fortunately the weather was quite decent for a Houston spring - warm and humid, but not too windy or sunny or rainy. Our convention was held at the local horse-racing track so we had a beautiful parade of horses exercising in the morning. Unfortunately I couldn't get any decent photographs of them!

We bought and ate almost everything that the concession had, and by 5PM they were almost out of food. Sitting in that building surrounded by 5,000 people talking, I was reminded of the flocks of grackles that congregate on the trees and wires each spring and fall. Everyone squawking, the volume rising, and if you tune out the words the sound is very similar! :)

Democratic convention

Photography was pretty challenging for me. The lighting inside was florescent and not sufficient to really provide enough illumination. People were constantly moving around too. I had to shoot at 1600 ASA and ended up with lots of noise on ost of the shots, making them unacceptable to Dreamstime.

Democratic Convention

After the delegate vote, there were still almost 6 hours to go for many folks. Resolutions to pass or defeat, local committees to elect. I decided to go home instead.

I saw no evidence of vote-tampering, or strong-arming, or persuasive tactics beyond simple conversation. My delegate card is a treasured souvenir of an important event - participating in the democratic system that our country is so proud of. I am glad to have been a part of it.

Photo credits: Amy Nicolai.
  • Amyemilia
  • The Woodlands, United States
I maintain a Flickr photostream as well as my blog site above. My user name on Flickr is AmyEmilia (surprise, eh!)

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April 16, 2008

Hi Amy!

I have to say you are as good as a writer as you are as a photographer. I am going to add you to my favourites! :)

I liked your article because I've been involved in politics too. I was the president of my local voting centre a few years ago. My role was basically to be sure that every person could vote, taking their names and logging their details. At the end of the day, I was present -and actually I was part- of the votes recount. It was, as you said, long, boring... but also exciting in a way. I watched delegates of both major parties walking around trying to look nice hehe. My father is one of them, he supports the Socialists (maybe you know our president Zapatero, he took the Spanish Army away from Irak). Zapatero's party is to Spain what Democrats are to US.

Anyway, I liked your article a lot, and also your pics.

See you around!



April 07, 2008

What an interesting blog article! I really enjoyed reading it--and I admire both your photos, and your commitment to politics.


April 07, 2008

Wow, sounds like you had the adventure. My boss went and he stayed the whole 10 hours it took. We are also here in Houston.