[Note: We will “live blog” the Democratic debate scheduled for
1:00 2:00 p.m. (ET) this afternoon.]
Demented Big Bloggers (we’ll have an example below), not-so-astute “journalists”, and Obama supporters, want to debase the issue of election integrity as an attack on the federal right of students to vote. Students have a federally guaranteed right to vote. The issue is election integrity.
Students who attend college in Iowa have a federal right to vote. However, “students” and “Iowa students” should not be conflated. Not ALL students have the right to vote in Iowa. A student who attends college or high school in Illinois is not entitled to vote in Iowa.
* * *
The Iowa caucuses are the first filter of candidates of both major political parties in the race towards the nomination. The Iowa caucuses bring in tens of millions of dollars to Iowa every 4 years. The Iowa caucuses provide influence to the Iowa Big Media outlets every four years.
This year, Michigan and several other states attempted to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states to vote. It is imperative for the democratic process, the self-interest of Iowa and Iowa Big Media, and the hallowed position (rightly or wrongly) Iowa occupies on this year’s election calendar that the Iowa caucuses be conducted with integrity and that the results reflect the will of Iowa voters.
This year the Iowa caucuses are threatened by potentially unscrupulous behavior imported from Big Brother Illinois and Big City Chicago.
As we wrote in Another Stolen Election, this is not about the right of students to vote.
This is not about students and their federal right to vote. It’s about potential fraud. We need procedures in place with built-in safeguards to protect the Iowa caucuses from Big Neighbor Chicago and its voting dead (or in this case, export voters).
It is important that Iowa political officials and observers protect the integrity of the Iowa caucuses.
A review of the last 2 presidential elections should instruct Democrats that at the very least the will of the people, or rather – of the voters, was not reflected in the results. We want the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, as well as all elections to reflect the will of the voters. Voters includes students. This is a federal right which should be enforced.
However, Republicans have used in state after state for the past 2 election cycles mostly LEGAL, methods to subvert the will of the voters. (The less legal methods employed to suppress the vote are difficult to prove immediately so Ripublicans get away with the voter suppression). Ironically, some of the Legal techniques used by Ripublicans specifically target student voters for suppression. Other legal methods for voter suppression include voter ID requirements designed to block minority voters and students from voting; voter file purging, caging, there are many ways to suppress voter participation. [snip]
As we wrote, we are facing a very unusual situation.
What everyone is tip toeing around is: There is in fact the very real potential of for the first time in recent history massive, organized, VOTER fraud, not election fraud which is usually the case. The Massive state of Illinois has the very real potential to subvert the small state caucus in Iowa. Democrats cannot turn a blind eye to this very real possibility. [snip]
By the way, Dodd is tip toeing into the larger issue of this “stealing” too:
”I was deeply disappointed to read today about the Obama campaign’s attempt to recruit thousands of out-of-state residents to come to Iowa for the caucuses.”
The Hillary campaign is being polite too: “We are not systematically trying to manipulate the Iowa caucuses with out of state people. We don’t have literature recruiting out of state college students.”
David Yepsen is aware there is a potential problem. Yepsen does not to draw a sufficiently bright distinction between all students and Iowa students – who are legally entitled to vote. David Yepsen does echo what we have repeatedly written: Trust, But Verify.
Maybe we should call these the Illinois caucuses.
Officials and campaigners in both parties are worried that zealous out-of-state staffers and non-Iowa supporters of candidates may try to vote in the caucuses, thereby skewing the results.
On the Republican side, GOP officials are watching precincts in Council Bluffs and Davenport to make certain people aren’t driving across the state line to participate. They are particularly concerned about Ron Paul’s over-caffeinated backers.
On the Democratic side, Barack Obama’s campaign is telling Iowa college students they can caucus for him even if they aren’t from Iowa. Five of the six Democratic presidential campaigns have said they don’t want their out-of-town staffers caucusing in Iowa, even though some of these staffers have already registered to vote here.
Blanketing literature to college students asking them to vote comes with a problem: is the literature, appropriately distributed to Iowa college students, being distributed elsewhere? This is where transparency is necessary. The gullible or the duplicitous are now aware of the lack of safeguards in the Iowa caucuses which makes potential fraud a problem. Hoping on an Obama bus in an organized or individually initiated manner, to illegally vote in Iowa, can be a temptation. Non-Iowa students quickly reading Obama literature as well as demented Big Bloggers might be tempted to violate the law.
Party officials say it is easy to register as an Iowa voter and participate at a caucus. That openness may lead to fraud. While Republicans say they will ask people who want to register at the caucus to produce some sort of identification, even those questionable registrants will be allowed to cast ballots on caucus night. On the Democratic side, officials say no identification is required to register and vote in their caucuses.
Obama’s campaign is telling Iowa college students they can caucus for him even if they aren’t from Iowa. His campaign offers that advice in a brochure being distributed on college campuses in the state. A spokesman said 50,000 of the fliers are being distributed. It says: “If you are not from Iowa, you can come back for the Iowa caucus and caucus in your college neighborhood.”
Yepsen’s language on the right of Iowa students to vote is sometimes confused – he too tends to conflate all students with “Iowa students”. But the language in Obama literature is “confused” too. The concern is non-Iowans without the legal right to vote, voting. The Obama campaign has bought in thousands of Big Neighbor Illinois residents to his campaign events this year. Some might be tempted to “return” and vote on caucus night:
It’s one thing for Obama to turn out non-Iowans to party dinners, eastern Iowa rallies, Oprah Winfrey visits or door-knocking. It would be something else to have them actually vote, something the campaign emphatically says it isn’t encouraging. But Larry Rasky, a spokesman for Joe Biden’s campaign, said last week: “Obama has paid no more than lip service to the timely call by the Dodd campaign for all the candidates to pledge to keep their out-of-state supporters on the sidelines.”
Yepsen is providing a service both major parties in trying to clarify the dangers of voting illegally. Yepsen, wrongly we believe, believes Iowa law and practices will be some sort of bulwark against massive election fraud which deprives Iowa voters from expressing their electoral will:
– Falsely registering to vote is fraud in Iowa. Someone from Illinois who thinks voter fraud is a way of life in that state will find a much different attitude from Iowa prosecutors.
– It would take hundreds of people in the right precincts to make a difference in the outcome. Any plan that brings thousands of people into Iowa to vote would be so visible everyone would see it, and it would backfire on the candidate who is supposed to benefit. It’s also called conspiracy, another crime.
– There is a law of diminishing returns on the Democratic side. After a candidate has won all the delegates from a college precinct, adding more caucus-goers to it does nothing to improve that candidate’s score.
– These are neighborhood meetings. In most caucuses, people know one another.
– Credibility. It’s not going to do Obama or Paul any good to have a showing in Iowa that is tainted. Obama has worked hard in Iowa. He has built an impressive organization and can win this on the legit. He doesn’t need to give opposition spinners a way to discredit a victory.
The bottom line here is that on caucus night, Iowans in both parties should work hard to conduct caucuses that are above reproach.
If Iowa can’t get this right, then Iowa shouldn’t get this sort of influence.
Demented Big Bloggers would probably rejoice at an electoral mess in Iowa because it would end the primacy of the Iowa caucuses. However we should all be in favor of electoral integrity.
Meanwhile, denouncing Yepson for alleged anti-student bias, Salon magazine recognized that there is a problem:
The clock is ticking on the Iowa caucuses, with just 22 days before zero hour, which means it’s time to address the ever-present specter of electoral fraud. For decades, the Iowa caucuses have been relatively clean affairs, unlike in South Carolina, where muck rules. In part, this has to do with the process itself, which is so Byzantine that for Democrats it looks more like musical chairs than voting. [snip]
First, there is a legitimate concern that nonstudent residents from Nebraska or Illinois could come and try to register for the Iowa caucuses, which would be illegal. (To participate in the Democratic caucus people must register as Democrats, legally stating that they live in the state, though there is no requirement to show identification.)
Salon’s writer proceeds to denounce Yepsen’s (and of course, Hillary – not bothering to mention other candidates who have spoken out for election integrity) concerns as bizarre, while acknowledging there is a problem.
As the top political columnist in the state, Yepsen clearly sees his role as a protector of the sanctity of the caucus process, which is relatively unguarded with few protections against organized fraud.
Paying lip service to the law, Salon’s writer declares If any candidate’s Iowa supporters bring in illegal, non-Iowans to the caucus, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Left unsaid is how the law will abate or nullify the public relations benefits of a victory in Iowa purchased with fraud. Yepsen is right, as are we, to insist on transparency in the process and that steps should be taken to prevent election fraud.
Too many people for too many years have waged war against the Ripublican canard of “voter fraud”, which rarely if ever occurs. This year the mere possibility of organized voter fraud is a real danger as even Salon acknowledges. The Des Moines Register’s Yepsen is correct when he insists that the integrity of the Iowa caucuses be protected BEFORE election day.
A demented Big Blogger, upset with David Yepsen’s call for election integrity wrote openly about violating the law and participating in the Iowa caucuses (as well as stupidly conflating all “students” with “Iowa students” who have the federally protected right to vote. [We are also amused by the total lack of self-awareness of this demented Big Blogger who rails against “elitism” then proceeds to tout his superior rights to vote because he is oh so knowledgeable about this election.]
The elitism of this article, against students, against Ron Paul supporters, against people from Illinois, is infuriating. Mike Connery destroys Yespen and some Democratic candidates for the way this attitude works to disenfranchise youth voters. I, however, want to go a step further. In fact, I am so irritated by this, that if I can figure out a way to get there, I have decided to participate in the caucuses myself.
Even though I haven’t been in the state since 1985, I believe I have every right to participate in the Iowa caucus. First, it would be consistent with the principle of democratic self-determination for the following three reasons:
The Presidency is a national office, and I am just as much of an American as anyone who lives in Iowa.
The Democratic Party is a national organization, and I am just as much of a Democrat as anyone who lives in Iowa.
In accordance with the principle of “one man, one vote,” after participating in the Iowa caucuses, I will not participate in the presidential nomination contest of any other state in the country.
Second, my participation in the Iowa caucuses are in keeping with the principle of retail politics often used to justify Iowa’s privileged position on the calendar.
I have seen every candidate speak in person. I have even talked with four of the seven candidates.
I have paid more attention to this campaign than about 98-99% of everyone else who will participate in the caucus.
Third, in keeping with the principles of democratic protest, this act of civil disobedience will be successful for the following reasons:
The vast majority of the country does not believe that Iowa should have such a privileged position in determining who is the President of everyone in the country. (Source, PDF)
What are the local authorities going to do? Arrest me for trying to vote? I’m sure that will look good, especially if several hundred people try to do this en masse.
The demented Big Blogger, who spent most of the year writing erudite nonsense claims about polls skewing in Hillary’s favor, goaded the bulk of his gullible readers into joining him in illegally voting in Iowa:
Neither Republicans nor Democrats in Iowa really do much to try and stop this, anyway.
With all of this in mind, the only argument that I can think of not to do this is that I don’t live in Iowa. Compared to everything else presented here, that strikes me as thin and anti-democratic. People who live in certain areas of the country should not have more rights than people who live in other areas of the country. Even though Yespen seems in favor of it when it comes to choosing the next President, fighting segregation was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement in this country, after all.
So, I’m going to caucus in Iowa, if I can figure out a way to get there. I think other people should join in, too. The more people who come, the stronger our protest will be. Are you with me!?
After insulting the civil rights movement and the fight against segregation not much is left of this NothingLeft Big Blogger. In the comments section the demented Big Blogger tried to pass off the entire article as “hyperbolic” and “satire”. Not many of his own readers saw the “satire”. One astute observer took issue with the comparisons to the segregation battles. Another of demented Big Bloggers readers courageously pledged to join the allegedly satiric “cause”:
If you want to caucus in Council Bluffs, you’re welcome to sleep in my guest room in Omaha (2 miles over the river).
I’ll even go to the caucus with you, though I can’t promise I’ll engage in civil disobedience unless there’s a lot more than 2 of us.
Another reader clearly did not get the satire. No doubt demented Big Blogger will attribute this not to his lack of satiric skills but rather to the failure of his own readers to be as wise as Big Blogger:
I don’t agree with this.
As I have written, Yepsen owes Obama an apology. Students attending Iowa colleges have the right to caucus in Iowa, regardless of where they are from originally. Or, they can choose to vote in their home states. This has long been established under the law.
But people not living in Iowa, not attending schools in Iowa, don’t get to caucus.
If you show up at a precinct caucus, you will be asked for your address. Students can give the address of their apartment or dormitory, but what are you going to say, Chris? I assume you don’t have a valid address in Iowa.
Demented Big Blogger, after declaring his weak writing as “satiric” appeared to eventually take up arms again for his own illegal importuning:
I don’t know exactly what I would do, because I am not really going to do this and because it is too late to organize a protest of this sort. The point I’m trying to make is that someone would be justified in doing this, because there is no good reason that Iowa should go first every stinkin’ time.
As we wrote, demented Big Blogger’s readers did not get the satire:
So you’re advocating either voter fraud (by lying to people in Iowa and saying that you reside there at least part-time) or just openly flouting the law in Iowa which says that caucussers must live in Iowa at least part-time.
I don’t understand a few things in this post. What would we be protesting? The system itself? And ‘certain areas’ have more rights how, exactly? You seem to be saying that the existence of separate states in our country is undemocratic. And Iowa’s privileged position should not be allowed to trump your privileged position?
I’m all ears, but I don’t understand.
Demented Big Blogger demonstrates the need for Iowa officials to take steps to make sure the integrity of the voting process in Iowa is protected. Democrats, real Democrats, not Naderites and PINOs who enjoy and attempt to profit from electoral chaos, are and should be concerned about election fraud.
We need to Trust, But Verify.
Bonus: Iowa Voters, student voters, with the last elected president: