Monday, February 10, 2020


You don't have to be a Bernie Sanders fan to believe that what's happening in the Iowa caucuses vote count is preposterous.
Internal Iowa Democratic Party emails over the weekend revealed that although the party was taking a second look at some problematic precincts, close to 5 percent of the total, it would not fix errors that occurred on the official handwritten tally sheets from precincts.

Those records are known as “caucus math worksheets.” The party only corrected discrepancies between the data as recorded on the worksheets and what was officially reported in public releases of the results.

The party could not change even blatant miscalculations on the worksheets, according to a lawyer for the party, because they were a legal record and altering them would be a crime.

“The incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed to ensure the integrity of the process,” wrote the party lawyer, Shayla McCormally, according to an email sent by Troy Price, the chairman of the party, to its central committee members. The lawyer said correcting the math would introduce “personal opinion” into the official record of results.

... because the caucus chair and secretary of each precinct had certified the results on the worksheets, along with representatives of candidates, the documents could not be readjusted without violating election law, the state party lawyer said.

“It is the legal voting record of the caucus, like a ballot,” Ms. McCormally wrote in her opinion. “The seriousness of the record is made clear by the language at the bottom stating that any misrepresentation of the information is a crime. Therefore, any changes or tampering with the sheet could result in a claim of election interference or misconduct.”
We don't care that it's wrong. It's been signed. That's your response to this problem?

How bad is the problem? This bad:
An analysis by The New York Times revealed inconsistencies in the reported data for at least one in six of the state’s precincts. Those errors occurred at every stage of the tabulation process: in recording votes, in calculating and awarding delegates, and in entering the data into the state party’s database. Hundreds of state delegate equivalents, the metric the party uses to determine delegates for the national convention, were at stake in these precincts.

The Iowa Democratic Party released a list of 92 precincts on Sunday that it said were flagged as problematic by three presidential candidates — Mr. Sanders; Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.; and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. That figure is far fewer than the number with inconsistencies captured in the Times review....

In the Times review of the data, at least 10 percent of precincts appeared to have improperly allocated their delegates, based on reported vote totals. In some cases, precincts awarded more delegates than they had to give; in others, they awarded fewer. More than two dozen precincts appeared to give delegates to candidates who did not qualify as viable under the caucus rules.
Shut it down, Tom Perez. Announce today that the national Democratic Party won't accept the state party's results and wants all the raw data and documentation in order to do its own count, the goal of which will be accuracy. If the state party doesn't want to provide data and paper backups, the state will go without delegates at the national convention. It's that simple.

If it takes months, so what? It's only a handful of delegates, and the convention is in mid-July. It's highly unlikely that the delegate race will be so close that the tiny number of delegates separating Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will be crucial to deciding who the nominee is. But the numbers need to be right, for the record.

Be decisive. Dithering looks weak to an electorate that's been primed to believe that Democrats are weaklings. Ditch the Iowa count and prove you can get the numbers right.

Also: Democrats believe in democracy. Democrats need to make democracy work in Iowa. Republicans are already mocking Democrats for denouncing Russian manipulation of the 2016 race while being unable to run a vote count in Iowa. Prove them wrong. Democrats will have much less credibility complaining about voting irregularities in November if the party can't get this right.

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