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Occasional Note on the 2008 Campaigns, No. 2

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

An Occasional Note on the 2008 Campaigns, No. 2

The Dodo gives Alice her prize from the caucus race, which has no rules except to run in a circle. All are winners. Alice in Wonderland

Apparently, a muscle in the small of my back heard my fervent wish that I could just pull the bedcovers up over my head and never hear the words “caucus” or “primary” again, because back pain laid me out for a week, scotching my plans to go to Reno, Nevada, to attend some campaign events. Still, there’s always the telly.

::Bill Clinton has a cow::
What better place to have a cow than in a BBQ joint like Oakland, CA’s Everett and Jones? Here’s the raw video from the Bay Area’s local ABC7 news station of their reporter questioning Bill Clinton about a late move by Clinton supporters to stop Las Vegas casino hotel shift workers being able to caucus at their workplace instead of in their home precinct: Note how the former president says categorically: “This is a one man, one vote country.”

You have to admit, Clinton’s as cool as a dill pickle as he turns the reporter’s “accusatory” question back on him, asking if he defends people having special rights to vote outside their precinct and having their vote count five times more than anybody else’s. The at-large caucus plan—with its change in vote weighting—was adopted in October by the local Democratic Party and it wasn’t until two days after the culinary workers endorsed Obama last week that the teachers union, which backs Clinton, went to court over it.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal story on the reasons the judge declined to interfere is here. It also explains that:
In at-large caucuses, the number of delegates are assigned based on attendance. At fixed precincts, the number of delegates chosen are based on registered voters in each specific area. At at-large precincts, not only does the number of delegates change based on turnout, but the ratio changes. The lower the turnout, the better the ratio of delegates to caucus-goers.

The ABC reporter’s blog about the Clinton incident is here and his follow-up, here. The on-air clip that aired in the Wednesday evening local news bulletin, and its transcript, is here. The ABC national network didn’t refer to the incident although Mark Matthews brought it to their attention. Lest you think he is some rookie reporter, Matthews has received numerous awards for his journalism.

::Many persons, no votes::
Meanwhile, over in South Carolina, the Republican Primary ran into a few problems this weekend because the voting machines didn’t work. According to a spokeswoman in Horry County, where the problems occurred, the clearing test that resets the machine data to zero was not done on most of the machines, which locked them and made them unable to function, CNN’s website reported. When the few paper ballots the county precincts had on hand ran out, people voted on scraps of paper and it was expected that 40 to 50 people would be brought in to help with the hand count after the polls closed.

On Sunday, January 20, Vote Rescue Radio aired a two-hour show about the issues involved. It is available as streaming audio here.

Earlier in the week, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer aired an item about problems with voting machines, focusing on the upcoming February 5 primary in California. Besides interviewing Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, correspondent Spencer Michels also spoke to David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of; Steve Weir, president of the California Association of County Election Officials; and Dan Ashby, co-founder of Election Defense Alliance.



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