Of Course There Are Accusations of Fraud in Iowa...

...Because the caucus process is absolutely backwards.  It uses non-anonymous voting, for god sakes.   Sophisticated democracies adopted anonymous voting centuries ago for really good reasons -- in particular it limited the ability to pressure people before and after their vote.  So no one should be surprised that a stupid system without anonymity designed to allow voters to "persuade" people voting for someone else over to their side results in stories of coercion and fraud.  Iowa should not be the first primary, not the least because of the damn ethanol issue but also because their process is archaic.


  1. J_W_W:

    Note that the Republican caucus ends with a secret ballot. The Democrat ones do not. This should tell you all you know about which side derides anonymity in voting. Of course if you look at their beliefs with regards to speech, it is obvious that their entire philosophy stands on group force and coercion over the individual.

  2. Dan Wendlick:

    The whole idea of the "Open Caucus" system is to create the appearance of participation while still allowing the party leadership to control the outcome. Add to this the "Superdelegate" system (roughly 650 of the 4200 or so delegates to the Democratic nominating convention are sitting politicians and are technically uncommitted to any candidate on any ballot), and the Democratic primary process lends itself to heavy manipulation.

  3. Trevor:

    Re ethanol: I take the dim view that if Iowa weren't the first primary, then there would be some other pet project for whichever state was first. Politicians pander, that's what they do.

  4. mlhouse:

    A caucus is a party event. So the voting isn't the same as voting in an election caucus. If you note, each party uses different rules in Iowa. Selecting candidates is a party activity. It isn't necessarily open to the general public and it should stay that way.

  5. slocum:

    "Sophisticated democracies adopted anonymous voting centuries ago for really good reasons"

    Yes, but everybody seems to be forgetting. We're bringing back the non-anonymous, non-secret voting with 'no-excuses' absentee ballots and 'ballot selfies'.

  6. Dan Wendlick:

    True, but if you can find a sillier idea that forcing people to make food inedible then burn it so that about 0.5% of the country can benefit, then you've got me.

  7. Maximum Liberty:

    I've often thought that we should have primaries in reverse order of state size (i.e. smallest to largest) on the theory that it would allow more candidates to dip their toes in the water and get tested. Then I look at the states and conclude that I wouldn't want these people deciding my candidates any more than the current crop. The problem is that nor a one of the smallest states is southern or Midwestern, which means that northern, mountain, and plains states could end up winnowing out all the southerners and Midwesterners before hitting the southern states. It would be really odd to adopt a method that seems to exclude the core conservative geography. So maybe Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina makes a bit of sense after all.