Human Events Blog

Rick Santorum Wins Iowa Caucus

 

People are always wondering why Iowa should have such a prominent role in the primaries, given its small size, unrepresentative demographics, and other factors.   Here’s a little more ammunition for those who think it should no longer hold its outsized position in presidential politics: it turns out Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses after all.   They think.   The final count may never be complete.

The Des Moines Register calls this “a tie for the ages.”   I can think of some other, more colorful phrases to describe it.

There are too many holes in the certified totals from the Iowa caucuses to know for certain who won, but Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote advantage.

Results from eight precincts are missing – any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney – and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.

GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, although not all the changes affected the two leaders. Changes in one precinct alone shifted the vote by 50 – a margin greater than the certified tally.

The certified numbers: 29,839 for Santorum and 29,805 for Romney. The turnout: 121,503.

So fifteen days later, Iowa authorities still can’t count 121,503 votes accurately, but they’re kinda thinking maybe that Santorum fellow ended up 34 votes ahead.

How did this horror show happen?   Iowa caucus results are submitted on paper, using documentation called “Form E.”   (See, Ann, there is still a demand for paper!)   More than one hundred of the 1,744 precincts in Iowa didn’t comply with the simple instructions for handling these forms:

The precinct chair and precinct secretary were both to sign the results verified by witnesses on caucus night. But results for some precincts came in on pieces of paper other than the official forms. Many more had only one signature, or the wrong signature (say, from a county chair). Another 18 documents had no signatures at all.

[…] In Fayette County, four of the Form Es were signed by the same two people – Irene Iben, a precinct secretary who backed Gingrich, and Janet Wissler, a precinct secretary who caucused for Perry.

Wissler told the Register on Wednesday that the four precincts – Oelwein 1, 2, 3 and 4 – voted as a group. The Fayette County GOP chairwoman “probably handed them to me and told me to sign them,” Wissler said. “It was the next day.”

And yet, “politics watchers said an accurate caucus count is important to the credibility of the event, but it would be unfair for anyone to spin the new outcome as embarrassing for Iowa.”   Oh, Heaven forbid!   Hey, they only managed to completely lose the results from eight precincts.   That’s a 99.5% success rate at handling simple paperwork, filed after the candidates poured millions of dollars into winning a race that held the attention of the entire nation.

I’ll say this in Iowa’s defense: they’re far from the only ones who turn elections into a circus.   For some reason, the terabyte-munching, data-mining, ID-obsessed Information Age continues to tolerate horse-and-buggy elections.   Iowa has been running a state lottery for over 25 years, and I’ll wager it’s not satisfied with 99.5% accuracy when it processes far larger amounts of data, every single week.

 


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