Dirty Tricks in Texas and Ohio?

I'm receiving reports that contrary to Texas Democratic party caucus rules that preclude registration forms from being submitted before either 7:15 pm or the last vote at a precinct has been cast, Obama volunteers are handing out the forms at precincts today and asking people to fill them in and then collecting them. For Obama to submit the forms on the voters' behalf without the voter physically being present at the caucus would violate the rules.

The rules state:

Participants may NOT begin signing in until the precinct convention has been called to order. The call to order may not occur until 7:15 p.m. OR whenever the last voter finishes voting at that polling location whichever is later. If, after the convention has been called to order and participants have signed in, any participant who wishes to leave may do so, and their sign in WILL count toward the delegate allocation for each candidate. Sign-In ends when the last person present waiting to sign in has done so.

If any Texas voter has witnessed this, feel free to let me know. More on the rules and some disturbing reports from Ohio below:

In Ohio, Marc Ambinder reports:

Ohio's Secretary of State, an office held by a Democrat, has rebuked Sen. Barack Obama's campaign for trying to staff precincts with poll workers who presented insufficient credentials. Obama's campaign calls this charge "wrong."

In a memo sent late this morning to county election directors by David M. Farrell, Ohio's
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, a letter carried by Obama supporters -- signed by Obama state director Paul Tewes -- is deemed "not legally sufficient on its own to allow someone to gain access to polling places." Farrell notes that state law requires that polling observers must be "duly appointed" and have been previously issued a certificate.

Ambinder has posted the letter saying the authorization is insufficient and the authorization. The problem this can cause:

The alleged infraction seems minor, but the Clinton campaign has seized on the e-mail from the Secretary of State's office as evidence that the Obama campaign is trying to game the system in Ohio.

Lynn Utrecht, chief campaign counsel for Sen. Hillary Clinton, said that she'd recieved reports from the field of Obama poll workers being kicked out of precincts for aggressively challenging voters. Adding it up, she said, "and it's a pattern."

Back to the Texas caucus rules, here's more:

2) Attendees sign in on the roll sheets (“Exhibit A”) that are in the packet. ATTENDEES MAY ONLY SIGN IN FOR THEMSELVES. (see TCDP GUIDELINES p. 4 *) Only those persons who voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary may participate in the caucus. A person is verified in one of three ways: 1. The attendee’s voter registration card was stamped as having voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary, or 2. The attendee was given a stamped Party Affiliation Card when they voted, or 3. The attendee is listed in the precinct voter roster as having voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary. This is the roster of registered voters provided by the Democratic presiding judge. The roster will indicate those who voted Democratic in your precinct on March 4th and also includes those who Voted Early, or Voted by Mail.

5) The Chair, Secretary and caucus representatives determine the following and then announce:
a. the threshold for a caucus to be able to elect delegates

b. percent of people attending the precinct convention who support each candidate

c. number of delegates the supporters of each candidate are entitled to elect

There is an “E-Z Math Precinct Delegate Formula” sheet in the packet to help you. Please see mathematical examples at the end of these TCDP GUIDELINES.

Once the threshold and proportional allocation of delegates has been announced by the Chair of the precinct convention, it cannot be changed by any late arrivals to the convention. Late attendees can still sign in with their presidential preference and participate, but their arrival cannot change the threshold or the allocation of delegates.

< The Problem With The Dem Nominee Selection Process
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  • Display: Sort:
    I don't like (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by americanincanada on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:44:25 PM EST
    either the Ohio or Texas accusations. This looks bad and makes Obama look a little desperate.

    Do we know anything more?

    I'm waiting for updates (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:46:17 PM EST
    and will post them when I get them.

    [ Parent ]
    well--for what it's worth (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:53:53 PM EST
    I heard from two TX friends that they were offered those sign-in sheets as they were leaving the polling place, only to have them snatched back when they tried to declare for Clinton.  Don't worry--both friends reported this to the hotline the Clinton campaign put out.  My friends said he didn't look old enough to vote.  I would be hesitant to put this down as an overall campaign strategy and would more place the blame on an overzealous kid, or group of kids.

    I wonder if a way around this is to confirm at the opening of the caucus that they only use sign-in sheets that are fresh out of the pack.  Each campaign would have to have someone there to verify this.

    What a mess.

    [ Parent ]

    the rules state (none / 0) (#31)
    by wasabi on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:00:02 PM EST
    You cannot put your name on the list any earlier than 15 minutes after the last person votes or 7:15 whichever is later.  Those lists gathered in the voting area should be tossed.  Hopefully an election official will get sent to the caucus site to oversee the process if they get enough people to complain.  Most people will probably be clueless about the rules though.

    [ Parent ]
    Intimidation and sexist bullying (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Donna Darko on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:52:06 PM EST
    Obama volunteers are handing out the forms at precincts today and asking people to fill them in and then collecting them. For Obama to submit the forms on the voters' behalf without the voter physically being present at the caucus would violate the rules.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if this involves sexist bullying too. Shakesville on caucuses:

    What is it about the difference between the two that gives Obama the edge in caucuses and Clinton the advantage in the primaries?"

    In my Seattle caucus today, overwhelmingly for Obama, us Hillary supporters were older, and less aggressive than the Obama supporters. ... Intimidation is a factor in caucuses. It's something the democratic party has to deal with which is why I want the democratic party to do away with them completely. The last thing democrats need when trying to build party unity is one half winning votes by scaring the other half.

    Someone has also emailed me private accounts of older female Hillary supporters who reported being intimidated, shouted down, and outright bullied by younger male Obama supporters while caucusing. There were also reports of male McCain supporters who showed up claiming the specific purpose of intimidating female Hillary supporters.

    And why not? When everyone's free to take shots at Hillary without serious consequence, it doesn't exactly send the message that anyone will care if her supporters are treated as fair game for sexist bullying, too.

    This has been so since Iowa (none / 0) (#34)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:02:07 PM EST
    Read the Des Moines Register readers' comments blogs about behavior at their caucuses.  Ditto in Nevada and elsewhere.  I took the time to read local online papers from the start and have been appalled -- not only that this has happened to pervert the process from the beginning but also that there has not been media or even much blog coverage about this.  I posted comments on this and other blogs and do so again in hope that maybe now that the Obamabloom is fading, media and maybe even Dem leaders will look at many, many reports from caucus participants of problems.  (Note: I know some problems are to be expected -- but intimidation and deliberate perversion of the process ought not be acceptable.)  This is no way to pick a nominee for president, and I'm so disgusted that I don't know if I can cast a ballot for one of our candidates this fall.

    [ Parent ]
    The precinct convention MAY not start until 7:15pm (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by ivs814 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:55:38 PM EST
    You MAY not BEGIN the precinct convention until the last voter has voted at the precinct place.  That means you cannot gather signatures on the "Sign-In" sheets until the convention convenes.  So if Obama supporters are getting signatures before the convention convenes, they are violating the rules.

    Laws (none / 0) (#28)
    by Donna Darko on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:58:32 PM EST
    Are they breaking any laws?

    [ Parent ]
    very doubtful (none / 0) (#30)
    by mindfulmission on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:59:52 PM EST
    There are very few laws governing primaries/caucuses.  They (especially caucuses) are almost exclusively run by the parties, and the government has very little role.  

    [ Parent ]
    Though the Ohio stuff is clear (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:30:28 PM EST
    The Texas stuff I do not like.

    This was one of the issues on the (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:37:23 PM EST
    conference call between HRC campaign, Obama campaign, and TX Dem. party officials.  Must caucus voter sign in personally, or may sd. caucus voter be signed in absentia by another caucus attendee?  This is the point on which Clinton campaign stated that, if there was no letter agreement that each caucus attendee must personally sign in at the caucus, Clinton campaign might consider filing a lawsuit.

    [ Parent ]
    If this turns out to be true, it would (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by RalphB on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:54:42 PM EST
    seem a suit would be in order.  Does anyone know if such a letter was agreed?

    [ Parent ]
    I'm getting nightmarish deja vu... (none / 0) (#29)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:59:05 PM EST
    ...of Florida 2000. Only this time it will be Democrats leading the Sore Loserman charge. I am seriously hoping that when Jeralyn provides updates that I can laugh at myself for overreacting.

    [ Parent ]
    Hey, you asking us? Aren't you are (none / 0) (#48)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:10:14 PM EST
    person on the ground in TX?  Answer:  I don't know.

    [ Parent ]
    How close is the Secretary of State in Ohio (none / 0) (#16)
    by JoeA on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:47:42 PM EST
    to Ted Strickland?  i.e. How far are we to believe that he is impartial?

    [ Parent ]
    He could be Strickland's brother (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by ChrisO on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:52:05 PM EST
    and it wouldn't mean he would abuse his office to screw up the voting process. I'm guessing every Secretary of State is an elected official, and has political alliances. That doesn't mean that he or she will turn into Katherine Harris.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm not sure how the Ohio thing (none / 0) (#40)
    by JoeA on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:06:05 PM EST
    turns into a "dirty trick" by even the most stretched of definitions.

    [ Parent ]
    A Caucus Question (none / 0) (#3)
    by glanton on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:30:46 PM EST
    I have never caucused, tonight will be my first go-round.  When I voted in the primary today, nobody offered me any such form in the manner you described.

    Do I need to get one, online or something, before I show up for the caucus tonight?  Or, can I just show up at 7:15 and get a form and fill it out right there on the spot?

    Show up tonight (none / 0) (#7)
    by jfung79 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:38:12 PM EST
    My understanding is you don't need to get any form beforehand ... Bring your voter card to show that you voted Democrat ... Show up probably a little earlier than 7:15 to allow for unexpected problems.  (The Clinton campaign phone script I used for online phonebanking had me advising people to show up at 6:30, but I personally think that's way too early.)

    [ Parent ]
    given voter turnout I think (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:40:21 PM EST
    6:30 is a good idea.  I showed up at 6:10 for mine in Denver that started at 7 and was glad I did -- the line 15 minutes later snaked out of the building.  Bring a laptop or book something to keep you occupied.

    [ Parent ]
    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by glanton on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:55:45 PM EST
    to you and to everyone else for addressing my question so promptly.  I probably will show up at 6:30, just to make sure I'm in on the ground floor and all that.  Hey, if I have to wait a little while I'll carouse with others.

    [ Parent ]
    as to the form (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:41:22 PM EST
    log onto the Democratic party site for your county and they will tell you.

    [ Parent ]
    what form are you speaking of? (none / 0) (#15)
    by wasabi on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:47:39 PM EST
    When you voted, either your registraion form should get stamped Democratic, or they will give you a slip of paper with Democrat stamped onit.  If you don't have one, they can look you up on the voter logs.

    [ Parent ]
    They are (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by americanincanada on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:55:12 PM EST
    reportedly handing out the caucus forms for tonight and letting people sign it and give it back. Telling them they don't have to come back tonight.

    I am hering Clinton's campaign is on it though. I hope.

    [ Parent ]

    dirty tricks? (none / 0) (#12)
    by mindfulmission on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:45:23 PM EST
    Hmm... the TX "trick" sounds like an unsourced rumor. Definitely not a fan.

    But calling the Ohio issue a "dirty trick?"  Seriously?

    It sounds like it was a procedural error more than anything.  I don't see anything dirty or trick in it.

    nothing dirty? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by wasabi on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:48:54 PM EST
    You have untrained and uncertified people going to a voting site and challenging a person's right to cast a ballot?????

    It smells of Florida.

    [ Parent ]

    It smells of Karl Rove. nt (none / 0) (#21)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:52:31 PM EST

    [ Parent ]
    It's not even clear that they are not certified (none / 0) (#42)
    by JoeA on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:07:04 PM EST

    [ Parent ]
    Geez... (none / 0) (#14)
    by OrangeFur on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:46:49 PM EST
    ... could they make voting any harder than with a caucus?

    I guess since caucuses are a state party run event, they get a lot of leeway. But it strikes me they'd be an incredibly unconstitutional way of running a real election--the hurdles are at least as high as a poll tax or literacy test.

    If I had heard these were GOP tactics, (none / 0) (#20)
    by Anne on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:52:29 PM EST
    I wouldn't have been surprised, but I am appalled that this kind of thing is reportedly being done by volunteers for one of the Democratic candidates; that these anecdotal reports point to Obama people may pretty much put the "new kind of candidate" theme in the trash.

    It really just makes me feel sick.  I know passions have been running high, but I was hoping for a contest fought hard, but with heart and respect for the process, and some level of sportsmanship.

    This is just making my blood boil.

    y'all know I am firmly for Clinton (none / 0) (#33)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:01:40 PM EST
    but let's get more evidence of this before we shout full-blown conspiracy.  Voter fraud and intimidation are very serious charges (I had two friends who were personally victims of it).  Is this endemic or just a couple of isolated incidences?  Is it top down or a handful of kids who don't know any better?  The latter would certainly not make it excusable, but it might indicate that this is isolated.  There are many, many people in TX right now working these campaigns who have never been there before in their lives.

    [ Parent ]
    I agree (none / 0) (#38)
    by Anne on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:05:18 PM EST
    but there's a little knot in the pit of my stomach that I can't seem to ignore, and it feels a lot like the one I had in 2000 and again in 2004.

    [ Parent ]
    Anne (none / 0) (#46)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:09:18 PM EST
    I am with you, but it seems like every primary that has been really contested has had some reports of dirty trickery that usually dissolve under scrutiny.  I am not saying that it's not possible (and see above where I had two friends who faced it themselves) but that it might be isolated.  Obviously, the campaigns are watching closely.  If we know about it now, they have known about it for a while.

    I just don't want to get upset until we know more. (Though of course I welcome others to--I could just be too mellow today for this)

    [ Parent ]

    MSNBC is reporting on this now. nt (none / 0) (#32)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:00:47 PM EST

    what are they saying? (none / 0) (#36)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:03:18 PM EST

    [ Parent ]
    They pretty much confirmed what.. (none / 0) (#41)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:06:29 PM EST
    Jeralyn posted re Ohio. They didn't say anything about Texas. Also there was a bomb scare in a polling place, didn't catch where and it was closed for 90 minutes. Also see my post below re Obama camp complaining about voter suppression, which I didn't quite understand.

    [ Parent ]
    what did they say? (none / 0) (#39)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:05:21 PM EST
    I didn't see it.

    [ Parent ]
    They spoke on the phone to (none / 0) (#44)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:08:18 PM EST
    ..an Ohio election official who confirmed that there were Obama supporters who tried to enter polling places as observers but didn't have proper credentials. According to this official, the rules about this had been very clear and sent to both campaigns well in advance.

    [ Parent ]
    Yuck (none / 0) (#35)
    by eric on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:02:12 PM EST
    In Minnesota, the Obama campaign encouraged people to go to the caucus, "vote" which means scribbling a name on a piece of paper, and then leave.

    Caucuses have NEVER been handled like this.  It is supposed to be a MEETING where people discuss issues and nominate delegates.  Turning these things into informal mini-primaries and letting people sign in and leave just makes it all a big joke.  Yuck.

    In this case, Minnesota's Dem party (none / 0) (#45)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:08:56 PM EST
    set up this so-called caucus process -- and I've read many a blog commenter from Minnesota boasting that it is better because at least it does not allow voter intimidation in their workplaces, as was reported in Nevada; it does not discriminate as much against elderly who cannot stand for long hours in caucuses, etc.

    But why the heck Minnesota calls this a caucus, I can't imagine -- except that usually means the party has to pay for it instead of the state, as states pay for primaries.  But it also would seem to mean less supervision by state elections boards and the like.  Fortunately, Minnesotans are famously Midwestern nice, so they're probably pretty well-behaved about it all. :-)

    [ Parent ]

    Obama camp accusing Clinton camp... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:04:30 PM EST
    ..of voter suppression in Ohio, according to MSNBC, but I couldn't quite catch why. It might just be my bias but it seemd like they were really complaining about the weather. If anyone has more information about this, would be appreciated.

    Please let there be Karma (none / 0) (#43)
    by diplomatic on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:07:50 PM EST
    This is no way to win an election...

    cheats (none / 0) (#47)
    by lily15 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:09:34 PM EST
    acting very similarly to some
    Republicans (esp the Delay kind in Texas and the Republican secy of state in 2004)....Why does this look familiar?  And what does it suggest?  Nothing good...that's for sure.  Again, progressive principles down the toilet...ends justify means mentality...Just feels like Republican operatives at work here...