Ankeny to Iowa GOP: Don’t Ever Let This Happen Again
Ankeny Republicans have different opinions on whether the Iowa GOP was the one to blame for the glitches and irregularities surrounding the closest Iowa Caucus race in the state's history.
While making it clear the Republican Party of Iowa could have done more to prevent the anomalies surrounding one of the closest Caucus races in Iowa history, Ankeny Republicans disagree on whether the Iowa GOP is to blame for the problems.
The certified Iowa Caucus vote count released by the Republican Party of Iowa this morning places Rick Santorum in front of Mitt Romney, who was originally declared the winner. However, there were irregularities in 131 of the 1,774 precincts, and missing ballots in eight precincts weren't counted, according to state party officials.
So is the Iowa GOP to blame? Jim Friedrich, an Ankeny resident and an Iowa Republican Senate staff member, said absolutely not.
“The caucus is a straw poll and is a fair process,” Friedrich said. “The RPI does the absolute best they can.”
Earlier today, Patch reported the Iowa GOP has identified the eight precincts that will not be counted in the 2012 Iowa Caucus because the election volunteers there did not certify their votes. All questions on how the certification process broke down have been referred to those precinct leaders.
Because of this, Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn told a small group of reporters Thursday that he cannot declare a definitive winner of the Jan. 3 Iowa Caucuses.
Skye Alison, an agent with Osborne Insurance in Ankeny, said the process was definitely flawed the night of the Caucus.
“I don’t know what training or qualifications the individuals who do the counting must have and the procedures they have to follow,” Alison said, “but clearly it needs to be reviewed.”
Mike St. Clair, a lobbyist who lives in Ankeny, hesitated to say whether he thinks the counting was bungled.
“It's a relatively informal party meeting, where the grassroots meet to elect party leaders, determine a platform, and take a presidential preference straw poll,” St. Clair said. “I think people, including the two top finishers, saw the caucus this time as what it was – a virtual tie.”
“It's an old school, human process. That comes with the occasional human error,” he said.
All three men said they believe the caucuses need to stay out of the hands of state election officials. St. Clair said switching to a primary election format run by state officials would take away from the grassroots foundation of the Iowa Caucus.
“Taking the grassroots element away, it will become more of a media-based campaign with an ability to win via TV, radio and mail, as opposed to needing to campaign in every county and organize down to the precinct level,” St. Clair said.
Will Iowa remain the state that establishes the field for the presidential candidates in upcoming years? Friedrich said yes.
“All this about how we don't represent the country or our process is flawed is total garbage,” Friedrich said. “It makes the candidates answer questions and listen to voters and actually work instead of just doing media ads.”
But if the Iowa GOP plans to do something to remove the bad taste in voters’ mouths following this year’s caucus, Alison said proper training needs to be put in place ahead of time.
“This way, trust will be restored and the caucuses will have credibility,” he said. “Don’t ever let this happen again.”