To really lead the nation in choosing a President, Iowans should clean up their caucus count

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  • Dale Eisman

The vote counting flip-flop in Iowa’s Republican caucuses is an embarrassment to the party and the state and a warning that Republicans and Democrats alike need to tighten up the way they choose their presidential nominees, Common Cause said today.

“Since Iowa leaped to the front end of the presidential nominating process in the 1970s, the Hawkeye State’s voters – in both major parties – have shown an admirable seriousness about their responsibility as the first in the nation to screen the candidates,” said Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar.

“But in both parties, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the way that votes are collected and counted,” Edgar said. “Given the millions of dollars the candidates invest Iowa and the importance the state has assumed in choosing nominees, Republican and Democratic leaders alike owe it to Iowans and the nation to run a transparent process and provide a careful, accurate count.”

As the reported “winner” of the Jan. 3 GOP caucuses shifted from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum, the Des Moines Register reported Thursday that forms used to relay vote totals from local caucus meetings to state party headquarters were improperly or incompletely filled out in more than 100 precincts. In some cases, the forms were returned unsigned by precinct leaders responsible for actually counting the votes. Republicans also acknowledged that results from eight precincts simply disappeared and said there’ll be no effort to recover or count them.

Edgar said the Iowa GOP’s casual approach to vote collecting and counting in their caucuses is particularly surprising given the emphasis Republican lawmakers nationwide have placed on preventing vote fraud in the general election.

“Republicans seem to favor unreasonable and unnecessary voter identification requirements in November, when some of the people showing up at the polls might not be voting Republican, but take an anything goes approach when it comes to voting inside their party on prospective presidential nominees,” Edgar said. “It doesn’t add up.”

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