Wrinkles In Iowa

I have read two stories now from the New York Times about questionable practices in the Iowa Caucuses. One on Iowa’s Student Vote and another on the reporting of the Democratic Caucus results. In regard to the student vote I was disappointed to learn that:

. . . political operatives often try to suppress the student vote . . . [using] a variety of tactics over the years to keep students from voting. There are often too few voting machines, so lines stretch for hours. Sometimes, students are falsely told that they will lose financial aid, health care or even car insurance if they vote while attending school.

In Iowa, the suppression has been rhetorical. With Barack Obama’s campaign, in particular, urging students to come out for him, other campaigns have tried to put up roadblocks. . . Clinton said during a campaign stop that the process should be reserved for “people who live here, people who pay taxes here.” Chris Dodd seemed to imply that people who were “paying out-of-state tuition” and participating in the process were somehow being deceptive and unfairly casting themselves as Iowan.

Student are rightly up in arms about these statements. The law in Iowa is crystal clear: students who attend school in the state are entitled to register to vote in the state as long they are not registered anywhere else.

For myself, I would be happy with any vote where voter turnout was above 70% even if I absolutely hated the person who got elected. At least I would know that the person who got elected was elected by an active electorate who disagreed with me.

With regard to the results of the Democratic Caucuses I was surprised to learn that the actual vote count was never made public. In the words of the article:

Under the formulas used to apportion delegates, it is possible that the candidate with the highest percentage of delegate equivalents — that is, the headline “winner” — did not really lead in the “popular vote” at the caucuses. Further, it is possible that a second or third-tier candidate could garner a surprising 10 percent or 12 percent of the popular vote statewide and get zero delegates. . .

The press invests months in covering the caucuses. It and the public it serves are entitled at the end of the exercise to an unambiguous vote count, instead of delegate numbers that camouflage how much popular support each candidate earned.

Such practices serve as extra fodder for those who argue that Iowa is not representative of the nation and does not deserve to always take the lead in the process of selecting our president.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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3 Responses to Wrinkles In Iowa

  1. Chex says:

    The Iowa Democratic Caucus numbers that are reported are seriously skewed in favor of 2nd and 3rd place candidates.
    I was in a room (Scott County D33) that was at least 80% in support of Barack Obama. Hillary had enough to get 1 delegate and John Edwards needed 1 more vote just to get the 15% and even be viable. A woman with the Barack Obama group jumped ship and joined the Edwards camp to the suprise of the overwhelming Obama majority. When asked later why she switched to Edwards she said that she didn’t want the Edwards group to be unviable and possibly have some of his group join Hillary’s group and maybe push her over the number to gain another delegate.

    So the numbers that really broke down like this (anyone honest in the room will agree):

    Barack Obama 80%
    Hillary Clinton 12%
    John Edwards 8%

    Get reported like this:

    Barack Obama 60% 3 delegates
    Hillary Clinton 20% 1 delegate
    John Edwards 20% 1 delegate

    I know people from many different precints that say the exact same thing about the vote in their precinct.

    Even the numbers at the Des Moines Register site just tell the delegate count. No one publishes the real numbers! The real numbers are the real story and the reported numbers seriously take away from the winner and are generous to the 2nd and 3rd place candidates.

    Link to Des Moines Register Caucus results:
    http://data.desmoinesregister.com/election08/caucus/dems_results_precincts.php?countyfips=19163

  2. David says:

    Thank you for the story and the link. That was a great illustration of what I was talking about.

    I don’t mind how the Iowa Democrats want to select their candidates, but in all fairness they should still report the accurate tally of the votes.

  3. Pingback: David Miller » Blog Archive » Vote Totals in Iowa

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