Re: question about hand-held statistical devices in the field

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Fri Dec 21 2007 - 11:45:50 CST

On Dec 21, 2007, at 10:55 AM, Bev Harris wrote:

>> The cellphone report has no official stature, it's entirely for the
>> press.
> Are you saying it goes to a media office? There is apparently a
> letter from Senator Grassley indicating that the cell phone report
> went directly to VNS in 1996.

Right. And this reporting is entirely for the benefit of the press,
and has no "official" role in party governance or the actual delegate
selection process.

I do not claim that it is therefore unimportant, straw polls and
media reporting drive the campaigns. However, all such straw polls
are outside of the domain of either party governance or election
law. Hacking the unofficial results reporting system of the Iowa
caucuses could have a huge political effect, just like hacking
east-coast exit polls had the potential to have a huge effect on
west-coast voting back in the era when exit polls were released
before the polls closed out west.

Nonetheless, these systems are outside the election law.

> And, as you know, the delegate allocations at the county party
> conventions almost never match the original precinct results

The delegates to the county party conventions are selected by the
precinct caucuses, and as they arrive at the door to the convention,
they are still, nominally, representing the preference group that
elected them.

At the county convention, realignments are common, so the delegates
elected by the county conventions to the state and congressional
district conventions reflect the results of candidates dropping out
or just disgracing themselves (remember Gary Hart?).

> Therefore, the county conventions do not function as a check
> against the
> correctness of the released total aggregate report,

Sure they do, because the delegates elected at precinct 14 will sit
together at the county convention. They will all notice it if someone
is ejected who was elected, and they will all notice it if someone
shows up who was not elected (as a delegate or alternate, since each
preference group does elect alternates).

> held by central committees, which is not a public record, can back
> up the announced results.

The caucus is, at heart, party business. It is an internal mechanism
of the party to organize itself. I happen to like having strong
political parties that actually stand for something and are built from
the grass-roots up. That's what a healthy caucus system gives you.

                Doug Jones
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Received on Mon Dec 31 23:17:09 2007

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