Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Some Call Nevada Caucus Suspicious

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Though Mitt Romney has been declared to be the official uncontested winner of the Nevada caucus that took place on Saturday, February 4, some are concerned by the manner in which the caucus was operated, and question the validity of the results. According to the official results, Romney came in first, followed by Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. However, many of Paul’s supporters have used social media to report suspicious activities which took place — most notably, the counting of the votes behind closed doors — that call into question the accuracy of the outcome.

Suspicions of fraud surrounded missing precincts in Clark County that, regardless of the various deadlines, had not reported when they were supposed to, and in fact, underwent a number of recounts, some of which took place behind closed doors.

Others bemoaned the length of time it took for the votes to be counted and recorded. By 7:50 p.m. on the day after the caucus (Super Bowl Sunday), for example, only 83 percent of the precincts had been reported.

As observed by election expert Kurt Hyde, “Slow vote counts are an opportunity for fraud. Studies of voter fraud show that on many occasions throughout history, there have been vote counters who have deliberately counted the ballots slowly in anticipation of results from other precincts in order to determine just how much they need to alter the figures to bring about their desired vote totals.”

Clark County is a significant county — the largest in Nevada, with more than 50 percent of the state’s voters.

It was in Clark County that the special religious caucus was held late in the evening so that strict religious observers could cast their vote without violating the rules of their Sabbath. That vote was held in a large precinct within the county, and was expected to be a poor showing for Paul because Jewish and conservative Christian voters are typically Paul’s worst demographics.

At around midnight on February 4, workers began to count the votes from the precinct where the religious caucus was held, and Ron Paul’s victory was a significant one, with 183 votes, compared to Romney’s 61 and Gingrich’s and Santorum’s combined 73 votes.

That is when the slow pace began to get a bit suspicious, as that precinct’s vote was recounted, and still, by the time those votes were recalculated, the official Nevada Caucus vote was still stuck at 47 percent counted, with 53 percent still outstanding.

Likewise, Paul’s supporters point to the results of that religious caucus and question how accurate it is that he came in third in the entire state caucus. Based on the results of that particular precinct where the religious caucus was held, Paul’s supporters held out high hopes. Mark Wachtler of The Examiner explains:

Thousands of Ron Paul supporters still waiting up and able to do simple math, deduced that if Ron Paul won 58 percent of the vote in a large Clark County precinct and that was representative of his performance county-wide, the Texas Congressman should win the Nevada Caucus. Clark County alone represents more than half the vote in the entire state of Nevada. If Ron Paul won 58 percent of the 53 percent outstanding, compared to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent of the 47 percent counted, it’s a Ron Paul win.

But it was at that point that the live election coverage from Nevada was cut off by both CNN and Fox News. And yet, despite the fact that the precincts in Clark County still had not been counted, various sites on the Internet announced that Romney was leading with 42 percent, followed by Gingrich’s 26 percent, Paul’s 18 percent, and Santorum’s 13 percent.

The rest of the counting apparently took place behind closed doors.

It was around 2:00 am that Ron Paul’s 2012 Facebook page posted a message indicating that while 47 percent of the votes were counted in just an hour, the remaining 53 percent, all from Clark County, would take all night. That is when a number of supporters began to make accusations of voter fraud.

By 2:00 a.m., Paul’s supporters began to hit up social media sites with allegations of fraud in Nevada. As seen on the Ron Paul 2012 Facebook page:

Dorian RM posted, “I am seriously smelling voter fraud again. This is seriously depressing.” Toni P wrote, “I am not a big pusher of conspiracy theories, but this election is swaying me to how corrupt this all is.” Patrick M added, “It’s not a conspiracy. It’s been proven.” Matt K confirmed the same feeling, posting, “I’m smelling voter fraud.” Ryan added, “Is this true about the fraud in Nevada or is everyone just panicking?”

By 9:00 a.m., after closed-door recounts, results showed Romney with 47 percent, Gingrich 22, Paul 18, and Santorum at 11, with 71 percent of the precincts supposedly reporting. At 10:00 a.m., the Nevada GOP announced it would not release the missing Clark County vote totals until all of Clark County was tabulated, and by 11:00 a.m., the GOP announced it would hold an internal recount.

Meanwhile, as reported by Wachtel:

The entire corporate national news media, including all the Sunday morning political talk shows, blacks-out the events of the previous evening, the missing vote totals and the outrage by the Ron Paul supporters. Instead, they continue to inform their readers and viewers that the Nevada Caucus is over and it was another landslide victory for media and GOP favorite Mitt Romney.

These sketchy events prompted many skeptics to ask: "Is it not only possible that the American people are being bamboozled, but that the mainstream media is in on the entire scam?"

A number of alternative media outlets are questioning the delay in the vote count/reporting in Clark County and believe that there is cause for concern.

According to Politico, the mess in Nevada was predictable. Redistricting forced a renumbering of the precincts, which left a number of voters confused as to where to caucus. That alone led to issues with reporting. And other, yet stranger, issues brought about delays. In Washoe County, for example, the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet wherein the results were placed did not line up properly with the template the state party submitted, and that delayed the calculations.

And Nevada is not the first place where the caucus has raised questions. Following Iowa’s Caucus, Lew Rockwell posted the following statement by Brad Funkhouser:

I’ve been following Iowa GOP vote counts for a long time… They are being slow-walked… in 2012. Negotiations are going on… Cash is changing hands. Apparently GOP chieftains are "persuading," by one means or the other, Perry and Bachmann people who hold considerable sway over large blocs of votes to switch to Romney and Santorum — leaving Ron in the dust… Also abusing suddenly lax ID registration may have created many fake votes for neocons Santorum and Romney. Santorum has no organization, never drew over 100 people during his entire campaign. Of course he did bribe and received the benediction of that "family" leader who demanded 1 million dollars that were to be distributed in part to cronies. This is the biggest fraud since Kennedy stole the West Virginia Primary. Perry had built a pretty organization and was around 13% of the vote. He drew far larger crowds than Santorum and ends up with just 10%. Did those votes go Santorum? Santorum didn’t earn 24% of the vote.

Similarly, Robert Wanek Reports stated, “Ron Paul led 4 out of 5 Iowa Caucus polls in the days before the event but eventually fell to third place. Paul led Fox, CNN, and MSNBC entrance polls and with 27 percent of the precincts reporting he was leading the field. [But] slowly as the tallies updated Paul fell to second behind Mitt Romney and then suddenly to third behind Santorum by a few thousand votes.”

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney was announced the winner of the Iowa Caucus, but that declaration was changed two weeks later, when the GOP said that Rick Santorum had actually won that primary.

Critics of the caucuses are wondering whether the counts and potential fraud are indicative of the fact that the GOP establishment fears a Ron Paul victory.

Rich Galen of CNS News wrote, “I am serious about this: RNC National Chairman, Reince Priebus, should immediately dispatch anyone in the nation who has any idea how to run a caucus and tell the state parties that the RNC-designated person is in charge.”

Kurt Hyde also commented: “I am deeply concerned by the use of behind-closed-doors vote counting and vote totaling in both the Iowa and Nevada caucuses. What concerns me even more is that the American people are tolerating this. Apparently, they don’t know that the traditional American way to ensure honest, accurate, and timely vote counts is to count votes in the open with unimpeded access by the public to observe all aspects of an election save the actual marking of the secret ballot by the voter.”

Photo: A caucus participant prepares to mark her ballot during a Republican caucus meeting, Feb. 4, 2012, in Las Vegas.: AP Images