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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Re: A Mess in Texas?

posted by on March 4 at 20:15 PM

In this earlier post about Texas’s chaotic caucuses, I wondered:

A prelude to the Clinton camp winning Ohio, losing the Texas primary, and challenging the validity of the Texas caucus results? And then calling the whole night a confusing draw that needs to be resolved in a less chaotic fashion on a night with only one contest? Say… the night of April 22 in Pennsylvania?

Now comes to my in-box this email from a Clinton campaign lawyer on “caucus irregularities” in Texas:

The campaign legal hotline has been flooded with calls containing specific accusations of irregularities and voter intimidation against the Obama campaign. This activity is undemocratic, probably illegal, and reflects a wanton disregard for the caucus process.

The three most egregious categories are:

1) Irregularities: Prematurely Taking Precinct Convention Packets by Obama Campaign

Numerous calls have shown that Obama supporters prematurely removed convention packets from polling places. Packets may not legally given out until 7:15 PM or when the last voter has cast a ballot in the primary. The Texas State Party warned the Obama campaign in writing that they may not take these packets early or remove them from the polling locations. The Party directed that these irregularities be reported to law enforcement “since they amount to criminal violations.” The Party stated “removing convention packets … will not be tolerated.” …

2) Voter Intimidation: Lock-out of Clinton caucus goers by Obama Campaign

Numerous calls have been received that the Obama campaign has taken over caucus sites and locked the doors, excluding Clinton campaign supporters from participating in the caucus. The Clinton supporters have been unable to enter the premises to caucus. In at least one instance, law enforcement was called and forcibly opened the caucus site…

3. There are numerous instances of Obama supporters filing out precinct convention sign-in sheets during the day and submitting them as completed vote totals at caucus. This is expressly against the rules. The sign-in sheets were copied by the Obama campaign from the Texas Democratic Party website and taken by supporters to various polling places to sign-up caucus goers prior to the start of the caucuses.

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wanton disregard for the caucus

Posted by Obamaniac2010 | March 4, 2008 8:21 PM

"Numerous calls have been received that the Obama campaign has taken over caucus sites and locked the doors, excluding Clinton campaign supporters from participating in the caucus. The Clinton supporters have been unable to enter the premises to caucus. In at least one instance, law enforcement was called and forcibly opened the caucus site…"

I call bullshit. Seriously.

Posted by tr00fteller | March 4, 2008 8:22 PM

that's what Bull Connor said in the early 60's too.
And that's what the Supreme Court told Gore in 2000.

All bullshit, outside agitators, stop the counting, do not let these complaints have their day in court!

How fair and democratic of you.

Posted by unPC | March 4, 2008 8:25 PM

I don't get why the HRC campaign is so upset... I thought that caucus voters were just a bunch of hysterical party activists whose votes don't really mean anything anyway!

Posted by Queen_of_Sleaze | March 4, 2008 8:26 PM

Classic Clinton manipulation.

Posted by Clarkj | March 4, 2008 8:26 PM

I'd like to see direct testimonials from people who were locked out. I'm not saying it's not possible, but I'd still like to be sure that this isn't something like a bunch of people who showed up too late and are disgruntled over it.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 4, 2008 8:27 PM

Hate to say this, but I think Howard Dean (Mr. Man of the People, yeah, right) should be fired as DNC Head after all the fucking messes we've lived through - the caucus here in WA and other various states, Florida, Michigan, now this ridiculous crap in Texas - why in the hell couldn't we have a simplified and streamlined primary process?! What a joke!

Posted by Madashell | March 4, 2008 8:28 PM

only obama supporters were let in? only hillary supporters were kept out? how would they know that?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 4, 2008 8:28 PM

Classic, Chicago-style corrupt politics: if you can't win legitimately, cheat. Break the law if necessary. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | March 4, 2008 8:29 PM

@9- Classic Clnton desperation, rather. If the voters arent supporting you, get superdelegates and lawyers involved.

Posted by longball | March 4, 2008 8:32 PM

@ 7 - is running state primaries and caucuses the responsibility of the national party chairman? I mean, Dean obviously has some influence, but I would assume the various electoral clusterfucks are the result of the state parties being shocked - shocked to discover how many people want to vote Democratic this year.

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | March 4, 2008 8:39 PM

Nice to hear all the fair minded Obamatons resolve the compalints without demanding or allowing any proof. Yup, change, unity, let's end the old style divisive politics rah rah rah -- any compalint the other side brings is automatically rejected and smeared.

@6 is exactly right. You need to see the direct testimonials.

@8 they would know it by having reports phoned in from caucus goers.
Then they need to follow it up with sworn affidavits and other types of proof. If they see that it's there; if it isn't obviosuly they shouldn't pursue it.

Posted by unPC | March 4, 2008 8:40 PM

unPC, the notion of you accusing anyone else of blatant, unthinking partisanship is hilarious.

Posted by tsm | March 4, 2008 8:42 PM

I know there are first-hand accounts of Clinton campaigners locking out caucus-goers in Nevada.

They pull dirty tricks, then spin on a dime to accuse their opponent in their stead.

I hope the democratic convention falls apart and Al Gore is nominated as a dark horse wiith every major democrat politician falling in line to campaign vigorously on his behalf in the general. A girl can dream. Although we'd probably still lose.

How can the dems retain any credibility at this point? It's shaping up as a disaster.

Posted by befuddled. | March 4, 2008 8:43 PM

Bicker all you want, the big winner tonight is McCain and the GOP. Party unity will be torn asunder regardless of who wins the nomination. Hordes of supporters on the losing side will surely be disspirited and simply not vote in the general election. And McCain will waltz right into the White House. The Dems have an amazing ability to lose elections. Simply remarkable that we stand a good chance of blowing it despite all the the negative feelings towards the Republicans. God we suck!

Posted by tco | March 4, 2008 8:45 PM

@8: Exactly. Unless it's a magical locked door that opens for Obama fans but not for Hillary, that story doesn't hold water.

Posted by Ryan | March 4, 2008 9:11 PM

MSNBC just called Texas for Hillary. Say what you will, she won the big states tonight.

Posted by Madashell | March 4, 2008 9:52 PM

"Voter Intimidation: Lock-out of Clinton caucus goers by Obama Campaign"

Ok, this is highly questionable. Are they saying that Obama supporters show up early, and Clinton supporters don't? Or that they are somehow turning away Clinton supporters at the door and letting Obama supporters in? So they are polling people at the door? Or maybe it's another example of working-class voters (read: Clinton voters) getting dienfranchised because they have to work all day and thus showed up later at the polls and thus were late for their caucus?

This all seems highly suspect but I'm waiting for some more info. Was there a rule about shutting the doors at a certain time? Is the caucus location always near the polling place? Did high voter turnout keep people from their caucus location while they waited in line at the ballot? There's still the question of how Hillary supporters were somehow differentiated from Obama supporters.

#12, why do you always assume that someone attempting to call bullshit on something pro-Hillary is an Obama supporter? Is your perception really that black and white? You're dangerously close to those masturbating to Bush's "principled" obsession with false dichotomy.

Any rational observer of this primary is capable of calling out pro-Hillary/anti-Obama bullshit for what it is (and there's a lot of it to choose from). They shouldn't have to be called an Obamaton and have marginalized Obama talking points put into their mouths by someone who likely is just bitter that Obama's rhetoric actually inspires people.

Posted by w7ngman | March 4, 2008 11:28 PM

the saying "all politics are local" applies, with the addendum that local politics are often corrupt. Yes, we need documentation of irregularities. However, those who are dismissive of these claims on their face are naive. southern states (and certain northern cities) are notorious for messing with the voting process and such practices are not limited to republicans, Obama supporters or HRC supporters. We would be better off with UN observers to monitor the voting. better yet there should be live video internet coverage of all voting sites.

Posted by LMSW | March 5, 2008 6:29 AM

Most of the Obama supporters at my caucus behaved like "thugs" if they did not feel they had the advantage. It was really contentious and ugly.

They were only apologetic after they understood that election officials were sincerely attempting to keep things fair.

Posted by Rebecca | March 5, 2008 11:52 AM

I'll wait until I hear more detail to make the final call but this whole thing doesn't seem likely.

I see what 8 means and that's exactly why this all seems so unlikely. How do you keep Clinton supporters out but let Obama supporters in. Did they have a bouncer standing by the door asking who you're voting for and only let you in if you say Obama?

If these accusations are true it's shady at the least and possibly illegal. The people who did these things should be held accountable but I don't like the way the "Clinton campaign lawyer" seemed to be implying that Obama or the Obama campaign was doing these things. I don't buy for a second that Clinton, Obama, McCain or any other major candidate would risk the huge consequences of doing something like this. If anything it was some idiot local organizers that didn't understand the rules.

Posted by Colin | March 5, 2008 2:15 PM

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