Record number of Democrats turn out to vote as Sanders wins Kansas caucuses

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Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, stands amongst the crowd at the Democratic Caucuses in Manhattan on March 5, 2016. Bernie Sanders was declared the winner in Kansas over Hillary Clinton. (Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

Local Democrats voted for Bernie Sanders in the Kansas Democratic Caucus by a two-to-one margin. Nearly 1,600 voters crowded into the gymnasium of Susan B. Anthony Middle School Saturday afternoon to cast their votes.

Crowds of Sanders supporters clapped and stomped their feet to the chant of “Feel the Bern” before organizers began counting the votes. The Democratic caucus requires that supporters go to a particular side of a room to show support for a candidate and be counted in the voting process.

As more people were registered for entry, the Bernie crowd overflowed into the Hillary Clinton side. Almost 40,000 Democrats showed up for the statewide caucuses, beating the 2008 record of 37,000.

Sanders won Kansas with 26,450 votes to Clinton’s 12,593. Although Sanders won Kansas, he still trails Clinton in the nationwide delegate count 498 to 1,147, according to the “2016 election center” on CNN Politics’ website.

“People used to ask, ‘What’s the matter with Kansas?’” Sanders said in a written statement after election results were announced Saturday. “It turns out that there’s nothing the matter with Kansas when you give people a clear choice and involve them in the democratic process.”

State Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, said she was pleased to see a large turnout of the youth vote, despite the fact that the caucus took place on Fake Patty’s Day.

“I’m just enjoying it so much,” Carlin said. “It’s so energized. I’m thrilled that young voters are here.”

State Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, said he was encouraged by the participation and enjoyed seeing all the green in the crowd.

“It makes me feel really good about our young people,” Hawk said.

Carlin said she was unsure if Fake Patty’s Day would keep voters away from the caucuses.

“We just didn’t know,” Carlin said. “We didn’t know if it would be a problem, but I’m just excited to see such a large turnout for both Hillary and Bernie. It’s been fun on both sides.”

As parking at the school was reserved for the elderly and handicapped, nearby streets turned into parking lots as voters continued to enter. Organizers also set up a shuttle service to deal with the number of participants.

Janellys Long, senior in agricultural economics, said she wanted to participate as part of her civic duty.

“I believe it’s my responsibility,” Long said.

People who criticize the government and then do not vote are hypocrites, Long said.

“I know a lot of people, they complain about the results but they make no effort participating and voting, and I find that frustrating,” Long said.

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