Send In The Clowns

If Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted that, just wait for it. These guys want to run a country?

More than 12 hours after results should have been made official, no-one knows who won Tuesday’s Democratic Party Iowa caucuses. The CNN headline described it as “chaos and confusion.”

I won’t launch into a list of what went wrong, most of which seems to focus on a new software application that was to be used to report the results. It didn’t work, there was no tech support and officials weren’t answering their phones.

Other than that, things seem to have gone as planned. People apparently showed up at 1,600 or so locations across Iowa to indicate who they wanted to be their presidential nominee. The process has become so tainted though that whenever the results are released, you have to wonder if the numbers really can be trusted.

Technological improvement isn’t always a good thing. And in this case it wasn’t improvement. I have no idea which genius decided you implement new technology without proper testing, but you would think they would be out of a job. (Then again, Canadians have heard a lot about a little piece of software called Phoenix which has cost taxpayers billions, and no heads rolled there, including those of the politicians who implemented it despite being told it wasn’t ready.)

I’m a big fan of paper ballots and counting those, one at a time. Who knows, maybe if they had done that in Florida in 2000, George W. Bush would never have become president.

In Canada we manage to count our ballots on election night. I know we have fewer voters due to our smaller population, but the principles remain the same. Two people to count at each poll, with a scrutineer from each party to make sure the vote remains honest.

Iowa, after all, has less than three million people. A smaller number would be of voting age, with maybe half of those being Democrats. And a smaller subset of those would have actually turned out for the caucuses. All told, my guess is that they only had to deal with half a million people.

If the US had the same standard of election integrity as Canada, Donald Trump would never have been able to sound anywhere near credible with his claims of voting irregularities in 2016. Our system isn’t perfect, but it seems to work a lot better. Certainly a lot better than in Iowa.

Between the time I write this (Tuesday evening in my time zone) and the time you read it, the Iowa results should be announced. The focus will once more (theoretically) be on people and policies. (Quick update added just before posting – Iowa Democrats have released 62% of the results, with no indication of when the final numbers will be available. Nevada has scrapped plans to use the same app to tally their votes.) 

You have to wonder though how the Democratic Party expects to be taken seriously when they can’t even figure out how to run an internal party election.

How do you think Americans see this process?



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