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General News    H1'ed 2/5/20

Campaign's on to deny Sanders the Dem nomination: The Iowa Caucus is Corrupt and the Whole Process Stinks to Hell

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Coding Failure Blamed For Iowa Caucus Result Delays Earlier, the Democratic Party says both the new app used to relay caucus results to the party failed, and the back-up phone reporting system also failed, Michael ...
Coding Failure Blamed For Iowa Caucus Result Delays Earlier, the Democratic Party says both the new app used to relay caucus results to the party failed, and the back-up phone reporting system also failed, Michael ...
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By Dave Lindorff

We shouldn't be surprised that the Iowa Caucus has blown up into a fiasco. It is a primary that was designed to give a result the ruling duopoly parties each want, and Sanders, according to the polls, has been screwing it up for the Democrats by looking increasingly likely to win the nomination. Let me explain:

We've heard ad nauseum that the Iowa caucuses that are the first test of actual voters picking a presidential candidate each four-year election cycle are important because they have a record of correctly identifying the candidates who go most often to on to become the two parties's nominees and ultimately, in the case of one of them, the president of the country.

The trouble is, that's the trouble with the Iowa caucus, they are designed to pick the candidates that the major parties prefer.

Iowa is not representative of American voters' diversity

Start with the reality of Iowa. It is in no way representative of America. Not in the slightest. Largely rural, the state's largest city, Des Moines, only has 207,000 residents. That population count wouldn't even place it in the top 20 cities in California, where Des Moines would be smaller than the towns of Oxnard and Moreno Valley two places you've probably never heard of outside of California, unless it's about a forest raging fire nearby. Iowa's also a state that doesn't have many people in it who aren't white. According to the most recent census data, Iowans are 90.28% white, 3.51% black and 2.40% Asian. Native Americans only represent 0.037% of the state's 3.18 million residents. That compares to a national racial breakdown of 60.4% non-Hispanic White, 18.3% Hispanic (which includes white Latinx people), 13.4% black or African-American, 5.9% Asian, 1.3% indigenous (American Indian or Inuit), and 2% inter-racial.

The idea that such a state could be considered representative or predictive of the general US electorate, much less the Democratic Party electorate, is absurd on its face. If Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) really wanted a representative state to test out their prospective presidential candidates, they'd pick one like Ohio, that pretty reliably swings both ways, and votes for the party candidate who ultimately wins the White House. What the party's are doing in Iowa through it's arcane caucus process is manipulating the outcome to get the candidate they want to run. (Granted it doesn't always work, but better than far more democratic and less manipulatable primaries do.)

Caucuses are not more democratic than primary voting

But then the caucus process itself is ridiculous. First of all the Iowa caucus operates on a principle that is the opposite of the way nearly all states' elections operate (including Iowa's), which would be winner-takes-all. In a typical primary, voters go into a private booth and cast secret votes for the candidates of their choosing for each office, from president on down to justice of the peace and town constable. In the Iowa caucus, they vote publicly for the candidate of their choice by grouping in a room in a space for people supporting their chosen candidate. Ballots are filled out for that candidate and collected. Then once those numbers are tabulated and the totals are announced, caucus-goers get a second chance to vote and if they wish, can transfer their support to one of the candidates who is most competitive. The idea, supposedly, is that if your chosen candidate is clearly going to lose, you may want to support one of the top candidates whom you like more, or dislike less.

This process involves a lot of cajoling, debating and perhaps more sordid negotiation .(Are promises of sexual favors, money, a free dinner, or whatever permitted? Probably, but we don't know, which is the point). Finally the new second-round votes are counted, and then delegates are allocated. This might make sense if our elections were done on the basis of preference voting, where people list their choices for candidate in order of preference: first choice, second choice if the first choice doesn't win, and maybe third choice if the second gets knocked off, and so on. But that's not how we in the US do things. So this second round of voting in Iowa makes no predictive sense at all in terms of candidate viability in a general election. So why do it?

The Iowa caucus is also terrible for another reason. The process is so cumbersome and time-consuming even in good times, that turnout is typically under 15% of registered voters. Many Iowans simply cannot spend hours locked in a high school gym on a work-night. In the current caucus, where the process collapsed because of a failed phone app used for counting votes, many people reportedly went home early.

So let's look what happened last night in Iowa. This year, the system was changed so that if a candidate in a caucus location received more than 15% of the votes in the room, those votes became "locked in." Voters in that group are not permitted to vote for a different candidate in the second round of voting. Only those whose candidates did not make it to the 15% level could opt to change their votes to another candidate. That might seem reasonable, but the recording and counting system for this whole operation, which involved a smart-phone app (more about that later), reportedly failed abysmally.

Evidence of possible falsification of caucus vote totals

I noticed this at once when reports began to come in saying that the caucus vote reporting was in chaos. I went to the New York Times early in the evening and read an article from a Times correspondent in Iowa, Nick Corasaniti, which included the results of a single caucus site. It showed Bernie Sanders with a first ballot total of over 1900 votes, which was 600 votes more than the total of less than 1300 votes received by Pete Buttigieg, who was second. The remaining major candidates, Biden, Klobuchar and Warren were all listed at around 15% with, if I recall right, only Warren over the threshold for being counted in the second round. But where it got bizarre was the tally for the second round of voting. There, Sanders' total had shrunk to 1385 votes, while Buttigieg saw his total rise to nearly that level. I cannot remember where all the votes for Sanders went. They seemed to just disappear. But what Corasaniti didn't even bother to mention was that since Sanders had won 1900 votes in the first round, all of those votes were supposed to have been "locked in." Under the rules in place for this caucus, candidates whose first vote totals passed the 15% threshold should only have seen their vote total stay the same or rise, not fall.

If that one report from one caucus site (which has been taken down by the Times now with no explanation), was indicative of the problems that were showing up across Iowa, this looks like something much worse than a glitch. Coming as it does after a bizarre cancellation by CNN and the Des Moines Register of a final supposedly "gold standard" poll of Iowan voters the day before the caucus (a decision based on a report by a single Buttigieg supporter that a pollster calling him from the polling agency had offered a list of candidates to choose from that omitted Buttigieg's name), I would say that the whole Iowa caucus this year should be questioned, no matter what kind of result gets reported at this point.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

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20 people are discussing this page, with 26 comments


Jill Herendeen

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At least the caucus method makes secret vote-counting difficult, everyone in the room being able to count heads as well as everyone else. Any number-fudging has to happen as those numbers are transmitted to state-wide tallies...which apparently is what happened.

Though, IMHO, collecting ballots in a transparent container and letting all the voters who want to count them do so, as many times as it takes to reach consensus, should take less time and preserve one's ability to vote w/out being personally identified. Even so, there's still the possibility of number-fudging in the statewide tally...

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 4:46:30 PM

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Dennis Kaiser

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Reply to Jill Herendeen:   New Content

Also, the method of distributing delegates is questionable.


Take for example a made up site which has 6 delegates.


Candidate A receives 111 votes

Candidate4 B receives 83 votes

Candidate c receives 73 votes

Total votes 267 votes

To figure how many delegates the following is used:

6 (the total number of delegates) x the number of votes received divided by the total number of votes

Candidate A 6*111=666/s67=2.4 rounded down because .4 = 2 delegates

Candidate b = 6*83/267=1.8 rounded up because .8 = 2 delegates

Candidate C= 6*73/267=1.6 rounded up because .6 = 2 delegates

Result is all three receive 2 delegates.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 5:18:10 PM

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Maxwell

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Reply to Dennis Kaiser:   New Content

Sounds perfectly Fair and Balanced and Democratic to me. Just like the electoral college.

Capitalization note: "Fair and Balanced is a trademark of Fox News, supposedly; yes I did mean "Democratic" as in the party.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 6:19:19 PM

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shad williams

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Reply to Dennis Kaiser:   New Content

This seems as though the federal reserve banking system is in charge of the valuation.

Let's finance the federal government deficit for the pentagon budget while we are at it. Love those low yield nuclear bombs. What is the difference between an unleashed low yield nuclear bomb of 20 megatons and one of 1000 megatons.....???

Yes this is related.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 8:44:28 PM

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Reply to Jill Herendeen:   New Content

I agree open public voting has the advantages you say, but also the disadvantages pointed out by the author.

If you wanted to put paper ballots in a container and let people count them, the process would have to be under continuous independently monitored and recorded surveillance. There are other ways besides hacking bits on a hard drive of cheating.

The individual precinct results should be a matter of public record. Still, the idea of transmitting them by phone app is preposterous.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 6:29:57 PM

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Like Stalin said, it's only who counts the votes that matter

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 4:41:21 PM

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Reply to 911TRUTH:   New Content

Precisely.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 7, 2020 at 7:47:18 PM

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I agree wholeheartedly. I'm not a big "conspiracy theorist", only when it's flashing red like JFK or 9/11. Therefore I don't necessarily automatically believe everything denying Sanders the nomination is part of a big conspiracy. But I certainly don't rule it out. And the Democrats suddenly changing the debate qualification rules so Bloomberg can qualify only emphasizes how desperate they are to stop Sanders. They are on track to do the same thing (as in 2016) and expect different results. What you say about their terror at Sanders winning the nomination underscoring why he deserves our vote is spot on. He certainly has mine (sorry Gabbard fans, she has less than a snowball's chance in hell).

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 6:10:38 PM

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The establishment's desperation is becoming obvious. "Stop Bernie Sanders Now" was the title of an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. It was written by an advisor to Bill Clinton who is now the chair of the governance studies program at the "liberal" Brookings Institution.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 6:35:44 PM

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I was skeptical of claims the Iowa caucus is being rigged, but now that Lindorff is reporting this, I tend to believe it.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 7:21:08 PM

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Here we go again with invented theories about the Democratic Party rigging things against Bernie. What about Occam's Razor -the simplest solution is probably right? The results of the caucuses in Iowa are entirely predictable given Iowa's proximity to Minnesota, Indiana and it's Democratic population predominantly white. It's going to favor whoever can marshal the troops to attend and vote in caucuses - which is the most ardent liberals and activists. In 2016 Bernie was at his best in caucus states, but the others are learning to do that.
But things will likely change as other states conduct their primary elections.
The Sanders/Warren wing of the Democratic Party is not the base core of the party across the country. In 2018, the Democrats who took back the House were practical progressives focused on the needs of the people in their district, not the ideologically locked-in.
As the nomination process moves on, voters likely will more likely vote for experience, empathy and a willingness to negotiate with others and an ability to quickly undo as much of the Trumpublican damage as possible.
The question is this: Are the Sanders/Warren folk going to do what they did in 2016 when just a few of them sat out voting Democratic because they believed all the conspiracy theories cooked up by Russians that the Democratic Party was somehow corrupt or the same as the Republican Party? This article furthers those conspiracy notions. There is no conspiracy against Sanders. Consider the simplest most likely possibility that he's not representative of the majority of Democratic voters or American voters. Consider the other simple possibility that even those of us who may share his ideological views don't consider him the best person to be President. We didn't in 2016.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 7:39:24 PM

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Reply to Mary Bell Lockhart:   New Content

We might all believe that if there had not first been the fraudulent excuse for halting and sealing the usually highly respected and influential final poll by Ann Selzer called the Des Moines Register Poll, which would have come out on Saturday showing Sanders in a solid led and Biden support collapsing. There was no good reason to halt that poll, but Buttigieg's people claimed one person had called and said Butt's name had been left off by the caller as an option. We might have ignored that but then we learned that the failed phone app that made a farce of the "first primary" was the work of a group of former higher-ups in the 2016 Clinton campaign AND that their names and the name of the company they founded, Shadow Inc., was being kept secret by the DNC and Perez AND that Buttigieg himself was a $40,000 investor in the company. So, all that and you're not a little suspicious about the chaos?

This is the same DNC and the same Tom Perez that allowed Bloomberg into the next debate with no primary results, and the same DNC that has been desperately trying to come up with a candidate to defeat Sanders.

Dave Lindorff

founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.(dot)net

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 7:53:52 PM

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Dave Lindorff

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Reply to Dave Lindorff:   New Content

I should add that I am generally a believer in the Occam principle and do not normally buy into conspiracy theories, however, when things are done which are of questionable propriety, such as making a claim that a poll is invalid because one person said a caller didn't offer all the available hoices to the person being called, and that a company that developed an election tabulating system as an app on a cell phone, never tested it adequately, refused to allow the future users of the app to load it on their phones to try it until two days before the caucus, and had the name of their company and its principles (who turn out to be a cabal of people who hate the current front-runner for the party's nomination and worked for his opponent in the last election cycle) kept a deep secret by the organization, the DNC, that hired them, and that nearly half the company's funding came from one of the candidates in the running (Bittigieg), I then say even Fr. Occam would think that a little complexity migh be involved in the answer to the story.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 8:43:56 PM

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Reply to Dave Lindorff:   New Content

Hi, Dave, I feel that MBL has been a traditional early-style democrat who finds it hard to see that the Party is no longer what it useta wuz or maybe the word 'socialism' is lacking in vocabulary.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 10:29:08 PM

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Reply to Mary Bell Lockhart:   New Content

you are either very naive or a member of the DNC not to believe the Democratic party will do anything to stop Sanders.that was quite obvious the last election.The DNC has treatened to stop using any paid campaigners who support congress people who support Bernies ideas.the inventer of the new ap used in Iowa was a top Clinton campaigner last election and Hillary hates and has spoken against Sanders,Hows that for occams razor.the Democratic party regulars like yourself are welded to big corporations and bernie is not.FDR faced the same problem when he took on the Democratic regulars before the great depression changed peoples minds.If you can't see any possibility of obstruction then like i said your are naive,blind or a DNC memeber

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 9:09:32 PM

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TruthWillPrevail2020

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No surprise that the DNC is corrupt and rigging the election against Bernie. This is exactly why DNC staffer and Bernie supporter Seth Rich leaked the DNC server data to Wikileaks back in 2016 - just as Julian Assange has strongly suggested. And why the DNC (John Podesta/Debbie Wasserman Shultz) had Seth Rich killed. Russia never hacked the DNC server. The Trump campaign never colluded with Russia - it was always a DEM/deep state setup. This will all come out eventually.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 at 9:55:02 PM

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"What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The SHADOW knows." (Forgive me, readers. I can't get this out of my head.)

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 4:09:49 AM

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Ever since caucus came to our state, our numbers of voters have tanked. The hours and time of day you can actually vote is dismal and unfair to the working population.

This electon is a blatant disgrace. We are already in a corporate dictatorship and the DNC is in collusion with it. They'd rather have Trump than Sanders - and McCarthyism 2 is in full swing. Soon the 4 ministries of Animal Farm will be firmly in place - if not already. Every day I pray for a market crash - possibly the only thing to wake people up and make them look to Sanders or Gabbard.

But whatever, people - VOTE for your local and state reps even though the rest is a total sh*t-show! I'm going to make small donations to the Sanders campaign again even though he is a disappointment in that he'll cave to whatever the DNC wants. No doubt his life would be in danger otherwise so I can understand. Seth Myers is a reminder of that... and JFK, RFK, MLK, and the many others who've been murdered.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 12:04:23 PM

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Any threats to the monied interests are quickly dealt with in Murrka.Ron Paul received the same treatment from the other half of the Party when he ran.Anyone notice that the only times Pelosi applauded Trump's SOTU diatribe was when he addressed US attempts to overthrow foreign governments?

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 12:25:46 PM

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The 2004 DNC (DLC) "election" was the first blatantly rigged Democratic election in my memory. The flooding of the propaganda-greased nightmare was obvious. (Dean, himself, became aligned with the manipulators, IMO, after he bowed out of the race.) I think the successful management of the 9-11 story solidified the resolve of the schemers and showed them the way from there. The 2016 election was a direct result.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 12:40:10 PM

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Just read huffington this morning and they say while the Iowa votes aren't counted fully that Bernie leads the voters count but buttige excuse the misspelling is way ahead in the sde or delegates to the convention.the fix is in and definitely started.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:28:34 PM

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Dave, A really well written article. You point out a lot of structural issues as well as obvious corruption involved in the process. I think the sonnections between Hillary former staff and Pete's campaign warrant investigation by the federal election Commission. How else can we be assured that the "locked in" votes that you adeptly pointed out appeared to just "disappear" do not constitute tampering? I do agree that having a ranked choice voting system where people whose 1st choice is vot viable arr allowed to vote for their second choice is inconsistent with the national election, I wonder if you think we should have it nationally? Personally I feel our system is broken because of the duopoly which is strangling our democracy but it is impossible to get a 3rd party in because people are convinced they are "throwing their vote away" I truly believe if people could have voted for Bernie as their first choice without fear of splitting the votw and ending up with the worse odntwo evils he would have won un 2016. Take care, Michele

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:49:45 PM

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Dennis Kaiser

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As far as having to vote is concerned I will cast mine for Bernie. That said I feel Tulsi is a better candidate as she shows most of the strong point that Sanders does but she has a backbone that is ofttimes missing with Sanders. IN this Iowa debacle, for example, I believe she would be making all aware of this corruption while Sanders is flipping coins, thus giving it some resemblance of being fair and square. He has shown a history of backing down while Tulsi stands up for what she feels is right. IMHO she showed that in 2016 and is a major reason the Clinton-backed propagandists have silenced her. Another being the fact they wouldn't be able to control her should she be in a position of making decisions.

Now getting to New Hampshire watch out for more corruption in favor of Buttigieg and don't be surprised to start seeing the name Dan Weeks who co-chaired a discussion group with Buttigieg when they were Rhodes Scholars.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 2:03:23 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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If Bernie were presidential material, he would be screaming bloody foul about the Iowa causus. His army would be storming the DNC. But, being a weak kneed Judas Goat, he is not. He will lead his army of followers directly to progressive sidelines and defeat, no where else. That is his job.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 6:31:58 PM

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Janet Supriano

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Viewing the dismal collection of Democrat contestants, I told a friend months ago, I was convinced the Dems want Trump to win again. Despite being worse than an oaf, and all the Democrat theatrics, Trump is, in fact, pushing the US in the exact direction required by the puppeteers...down the scathole and into the unified, elite-controlled world collective.

The circus of 'opposing' political parties is an effective lure...and sinker.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 7:02:33 PM

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Mykyta Bas

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I don't really get your opinion about this situation. You suppose that it is going to be disaster to our country? Every political process smells disgusting. I've read here collegeessays.com/examples/society/ that this is kind of our society and it is inevitably.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 7, 2020 at 12:06:46 PM

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