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Transparency and the Iowa Caucus

By TJHalva | 1 point | February 4, 2016 at 8:47:51 PM CT 0 Comments

The Iowa Caucus has come and gone and it's still unclear who actually won on the Democratic side. The race was close, just 3.77 state delegate equivalents decided the final outcome; with an outcome that close there will always be human error. The party has made no effort to perform any validation or verification of the results; which is entirely their prerogative as the Caucus is not a state sponsored election.

One hundred percent of the precincts for the 2016 Iowa Democratic Precinct Caucuses have been reported.

Hillary Clinton received 700.59 state delegate equivalents
Bernie Sanders received 696.82 state delegate equivalents
Martin O’Malley received 7.61 state delegate equivalents
Uncommitted received .46 state delegate equivalents
Please see final results, organized by precinct, HERE [1].

For IDP Chair Dr. Andy McGuire’s Statement on the caucuses, that saw turnout of more than 170,000 Iowa Democrats, please click here.

Source: Final Precinct Results for 2016 Iowa Democratic Party Caucuses [2]

The party estimates that 171,517 people [3] participated in the Democratic Caucus. That's about all the transparency the party has provided.

I'll start by saying there is nothing inherently wrong with the caucus process; the rules are well defined if not opaque. The caucus is cheaper to conduct than a normal one-person, one-vote election which is generally okay because the absolute outcome doesn't legitimately matter given it's the first step in a long nominating process. Having said that, the transparency of the results leaves something to be desired.

Microsoft was tasked with providing a cloud based reporting system that was, in my opinion, well done. If anything, the clarity with which Microsoft was able to provide delegate results exacerbates the overall problem of transparency. If the party can provide near-realtime delegate results, why can't the party provide other pertinent information?

There have been numerous counting issues raised by both campaigns; here's the canonical example courtesy of CSPAN. The Clinton representative didn't recount supporters in the second phase of the group alignment. This singular incident didn't change the outcome, but it creates the perception of inaccuracy and that is damaging to a democracy.

There is nothing wrong with making errors, they occur in every election, but in most elections the margin is much more decisive. When errors do happen they should be acknowledged. Information necessary to determine if errors were made has not been made public; an example is the attendance in each precinct. The Democratic Party is being evasive. They are choosing not to acknowledge errors, and that's a problem that affects everybody regardless of their politics.

Over 170,000 people participated in the caucus. Each person in attendance was a witness to history and holds a shard of this secretive data. Crowd sourcing is the answer; I've created a page to crowd source the individual results of the Iowa Caucus for each precinct.

If the party won't, the voters can.

1 Final Precinct Caucus Results

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TAGS: dem2016, iacaucus

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