Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Looking at the results from Iowa, I am not at all surprised by the Ted Cruz victory. I’ve never really bought into the presumptive Republican front–runner’s reality TV inspired spectacle. I find it far more likely that this experiment in extremity is intended to make the Tea Party darling(s) appear reasonable by comparison... I am, however, quite surprised by the uneasy feeling of déjà vu I have reading the Democratic caucus results.

Watching the presumptive Democratic front–runner declare “victory” without declaring victory, hearing media trumpet definitive “victory”– currently defined by a margin of 0.2%, reading multiple accounts of delegates allocated through the flip of a coin; I am reminded of darker days when hanging chads and provisional ballots trumped the democratic maxim of one person, one vote. I am supposed to be reassured that Microsoft has democracy well in hand, and forget about those Diebold days of old. I am supposed to trust that the Iowa caucus process is free from the kind procedural manipulation I have witnessed more times than I can count. You say you aren’t familiar with Robert’s Rules? That’s ok, I assure you it will not affect the delegate count. Call the question. Can I get a second?

In 2000 and 2004, legal challenges to vote counts throughout the country were dismissed, claiming that vote discrepancies in individual districts were not large enough to individually shift the outcome of the national election. Of course, those were discrepancies between Republican and Democratic votes. I don’t suppose we are likely to see lawsuits filed between Democrats questioning the Iowa caucus results. Perhaps this is why it feels strangely surreal to me. One big happy Democrat family, with your best interests at heart (or is it head?). “After thorough reporting – and analysis – of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates. Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and no way that Senator Sanders can overcome Secretary Clinton's advantage.” So says the Clinton Campaign.

Sorry Hillary / DWS / DNC / IDP / Microsoft, but I just don’t trust you. I want an accountable and verifiable democratic process that doesn’t require me to trust you. I can still recall the “sore loser” narrative that was bandied about in 2000, and I can still clearly remember protesting the coronation in DC, but more importantly I can remember when 15 million people around the world said NO to the war that our stolen election enabled, only to have our (s)elected leader dismiss us as a mere “focus group.” You see, this isn’t really about who wins, it’s about democracy itself. It is about knowing that the voice of the people counts. And so in 2016, I say, once again – Count Every Vote!

Related articles:
Editorial: Something smells in the Democratic Party – The Des Moines Register
Iowa Democratic party altered precinct’s caucus results during chaotic night – The Guardian
Could the 2016 Election Be Stolen with Help from Electronic Voting Machines?
 – Democracy Now!


  1. Good points made above. But also, the results are not really the final results in Iowa and Hillary and her camp followers are just spinning everything. Iowa's crazy caucus scheme is only part of the Iowa count. As my friend Dan Jacoby, formerly of NYC now in Seattle posted earlier today on Facebook:

    << Stop the presses! It turns out that Bernie could end up the winner in Iowa.

    The results that were announced were in the form of “State Delegate Equivalents” (SDE). That’s slightly misleading. Basically, each precinct gets to send a bunch of delegates to the next level, which is the county level. At the county level, state delegates will be chosen (about 1,400 of them). The results that were announced were based on how many state delegates each county will send, but they are given in numbers rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a delegate — and try sending 1/100th of a person somewhere.

    Meanwhile, the final precinct was late getting its results in, and those results gave Bernie a boost, cutting Hillary’s SDE lead, already slim, in half. Now it’s less than 2.

    More importantly, Martin O’Malley, who suspended his campaign after his predictably disastrous showing in Iowa, has enough county delegates to be worth just under 8 SDE. Who are those county delegates going to vote for, if not for O’Malley?
    If the majority of O’Malley’s delegates vote for Bernie, he could get more delegates to the state convention than Hillary, and end up with more pledged delegates to the national convention.

    Will it happen? Nobody knows. The only certainty is that nobody knows who really “won” the Iowa Democratic caucus. >>
    And Dan linked an article from the Des Moines Register.

    1. Good stuff Kate! I was actually writing a longer piece (which I plan to post in its entirety soon), when I was rudely interrupted by the this election thing. I find folks that don’t actually live in caucus states generally have limited knowledge of how the process actually works. Working on Kucinich campaign in 2004 gave me some insight into the difference between the initial results, like the SDE mentioned above, and the final results from state conventions that generally come much later in the election cycle. Kucinich ultimately did quite well in many of the caucus states, but since those results were not apparent in the initial numbers, he was routinely criticized in the press for his low/no delegate count.