Des Moines Register Calls For Audit Of Iowa Dem Caucus: ‘Something Smells’

February 4, 2016 1:32 p.m.

Updated at 2:47 p.m.

The Des Moines Register editorial board on Thursday called on the Iowa Democratic Party to conduct an audit of its caucuses, declaring in a headline, “Something smells in the Democratic Party.”

The board wrote that now that questions have been raised about chaos at precincts and coin flips used to determine the winner in some locations, they can’t stomach “the whiff of impropriety or error.” The paper wrote:

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The Des Moines Register argued that a race as close as the Iowa caucus should automatically trigger some kind of review and that “too many questions have been raised”:

Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign has begun a review of the caucus results, as the Des Moines Register editorial noted. Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said he questioned the results due to the narrow margin in the race, the rules of the caucus, and the technology used to tally the votes.

But the Iowa Democratic Party has said it will not conduct a recount. The Des Moines Register claims that the party’s chair, Andy McGuire, “dug in her heels.”

Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

“McGuire knows what’s at stake. Her actions only confirm the suspicions, wild as they might be, of Sanders supporters. Their candidate, after all, is opposed by the party establishment — and wasn’t even a Democrat a few months ago,” the editorial board wrote.

“Break silly party tradition and release the raw vote totals,” the Register wrote in its editorial. “Provide a list of each precinct coin flip and its outcome, as well as other information sought by the Register. Be transparent.”

According to the results released by the Iowa Democratic party, Hillary Clinton won the caucus with 49.8 percent support and 700.59 state delegate equivalents. Sanders received 49.6 percent support and 696.82 state delegate equivalents.

The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement on Thursday noting that it’s not possible to conduct a recount of the caucuses, but the party said it is working to address candidates’ concerns.

“There are no paper ballots to recount. Monday’s caucuses were a unique event that involved more than 171,000 Iowans and their neighbors at a specific time and place, and thus they cannot be re-created or recounted,” the party’s communications director, Sam Lau, said in a statement.

“That being said, we are working with all campaigns on individual concerns they are bringing to us, and addressing them on a case-by-case basis,” Lau continued. “Just yesterday, we met with the Sanders campaign who brought us a small amount of specific concerns, and the Clinton campaign has also asked us a small amount of questions. We will look into these concerns and reach out to our county party leadership with any questions.”

Latest Livewire
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: