Des Moines Register: The Democratic Iowa Caucus ‘Was A Debacle’

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 05, 2016 2:10 PM
Des Moines Register: The Democratic Iowa Caucus ‘Was A Debacle’

You heard about the suspicions within the Democratic caucuses in Iowa Monday night. Delegates being assigned to Clinton over Sanders via coin tosses and 90 precincts having irregular voting counts. In the words of Donald Trump, it was a "total disaster," and the Des Moines Register  seems to have agreed:

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

[…]

First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.

Second, too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

The Sanders campaign is rechecking results on its own, going precinct by precinct, and is already finding inconsistencies, said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. The campaign seeks the math sheets or other paperwork that precinct chairs filled out and were supposed to return to the state party. They want to compare those documents to the results entered into a Microsoft app and sent to the party.

“Let’s compare notes. Let’s see if they match,” Batrice said Wednesday.

Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no. She said the three campaigns had representatives in a room in the hours after the caucuses and went over the discrepancies.

McGuire knows what’s at stake. Her actions only confirm the suspicions, wild as they might be, of Sanders supporters. Their candidate, after all, is opposed by the party establishment — and wasn’t even a Democrat a few months ago.

So her path forward is clear: Work with all the campaigns to audit results. Break silly party tradition and release the raw vote totals. Provide a list of each precinct coin flip and its outcome, as well as other information sought by the Register. Be transparent.

During the Democratic debate in New Hampshire last night, Sanders pretty much said that this isn’t the biggest of issues that face the 2016 race right now (via the Hill):

“This is not like a winner-take-all thing. I think where we now stand, correct me if I’m wrong, you have 22 delegates, I have 20 delegates, we need 2,500 delegates to win the nomination," he said, regarding rival Hillary Clinton. "This is not the biggest deal in the world.”

You can read Ed’s take on the matter here.