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February 17, 2012

Maine GOP: The Spam Folder Ate Our Results

Why yes, the Maine GOP can make itself look more foolish.

Why do you ask?

Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted that the state party made numerous clerical errors in counting the state’s caucus results — even omitting some votes because emails reporting tallies “went to spam” in an email account.

However, Webster insisted that the errors did not change the outcome.

On Saturday, he had declared former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the winner of Maine’s Presidential Preference Poll by fewer than 200 votes, even though not all municipalities had reported results.

“There were clerical errors that did not significantly change the numbers. There were several smaller towns that were left out, the reporting was wrong. … We’ve corrected those clerical errors and will send those numbers out [soon],” said Webster in an interview with POLITICO.

Remember, this is a caucus in which only about 5,500 people voted and the winner is still in doubt. This is an embarrassing amount of incompetence on the part of the Maine GOP and Waldo County Republicans are right to call for Webster's censure. No delegates are actually awarded as a result of the caucuses, so this process was already meaningless. This post-vote bumbling is just the exclamation point at the end of an already bad joke.

The inept handling of this process brings up a good question: isn't it time to get rid of caucuses?

When you’re dealing with caucuses versus primaries, the impact can be more easily seen. A caucus that’s held starting at 7pm on a weeknight in the middle of winter is obviously going to draw far fewer voters than a primary where the polls are open for twelve to thirteen hours a day and where voters have an opportunity to vote absentee if they aren’t going to be able to make it to the polls on primary day (as Ed Morrissey recently discovered in Minnesota, there is no such thing as absentee voting in a caucus). Turnout for a primary is often low to begin with, but turnout for a caucus is even worse. Many people don’t have the time to spend two or three hours on a work night sitting in a school gymnasium, firehouse, or meeting hall going through the often tedious process that ends with the (non-binding) straw poll that the cable news networks breathlessly report as the results of the caucus. This is especially true for people who work late, or have children.
There are many things about the primary process that need to be overhauled. Getting rid of an outdated system for choosing delegates (or in Maine's case, not choosing delegates) seems a good place to start.

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posted by Slublog at 10:09 AM

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