Beginning in Iowa and climaxing with the holy mess that occurred in Arizona, the Democratic presidential primaries have been a Wagnerian Ring Cycle of electoral "shenanigans," cynical rule-bending and outright voter suppression.
The DNC has relied upon its favorite scapegoats (benign incompetence, and of course, Republicans) to explain away the convenient "mishaps" and anomalies that have consistently favored Clinton as she elbows her way to the Democratic coronation ceremony in Philadelphia. Even Nate Silver, widely regarded as the Gandalf of statistical analysis, still can't figure out how Clinton won in Iowa and Massachusetts:
How did Clinton (barely) win the Iowa caucuses when she got crushed in other Midwest caucus states, like Kansas and Minnesota? How did Sanders lose Massachusetts after winning New Hampshire by so much?
Maybe because our election process is completely broken and untrustworthy?
Yes, aside from its bloated prison population and staggering wealth inequality, the United States can now boast of another commonality it shares with banana republics: Only 3 in 10 Americans believe that the nation's election process is functional -- a record low, according to a new Gallup poll.
And who can blame them? When you look at what happened in Iowa, Massachusetts and Arizona, it's easy to understand why Americans have lost faith in their electoral system.
Iowa: "Re-staged" results and alleged voter fraud caught on camera
With a lead of two-tenths of 1 percent, Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucuses. Describing the caucuses as a "debacle", the Des Moines Register's editorial board wrote that "[the Iowa Democratic Party's] refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy":
[T]he results were too close not to do a complete audit of results...too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night's chaos.
To make matters worse, results from 90 precincts were reported "missing." As such, the Iowa Democratic Party "re-staged" the results from these precincts. But even results that didn't need to be "re-staged" were suspect to error: A user-posted video on C-SPAN alleges that a Clinton precinct captain at the Polk County caucus "did not conduct an actual count of Clinton supporters and deliberately mislead the caucus."
When the Sanders campaign asked for a review of the results, the Iowa Democratic Party refused. As the Des Moines Register tells it:
Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no. She said the three campaigns had representatives in a room in the hours after the caucuses and went over the discrepancies.
McGuire knows what's at stake. Her actions only confirm the suspicions, wild as they might be, of Sanders supporters. Their candidate, after all, is opposed by the party establishment -- and wasn't even a Democrat a few months ago.
As we'll see again in Massachusetts, having the support of the party establishment allows you to bend the rules.
Massachusetts: Bill Clinton gets "a little too close"
Hillary won Massachusetts by less than two percent. But it was far from a clean victory. On the day of the primary, Bill Clinton was accused of unethical (and very likely illegal) electioneering in the Boston area. According to reports, Bill "blocked off several polling entrances, preventing people from voting. In New Bedford, a Reddit user posted a video depicting the former president speaking from a megaphone. Voters were roped off and could not enter their polling places."
It's against Massachusetts state law to campaign within 150 feet of a polling station. As the New York Times put it, the former president got "a little too close" to voters in Boston, prompting William F. Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of state, to "notify" the Clinton campaign of the rule, and remind election workers that "even a president can't go inside and work a polling place":
"He can go in, but he can't approach voters," Galvin said. "We just took the extra precaution of telling them because this is not a usual occurrence. You don't usually get a president doing this."
Which brings us to Arizona.
Arizona: Clinton campaign blames Republicans for election fraud, but gladly takes the win
Arizona has made Florida "hanging chad" jokes obsolete. A petition calling on the White House to investigate the Arizona Democratic primary has more than 100,000 signatures (which means that Obama is expected to respond to it).
So what happened in Arizona, and why has it received so much national attention?
Hillary Clinton was declared the winner in Arizona's Democratic primary with less than 1 percent of votes tabulated and hundreds (if not thousands) of voters still waiting in line to vote. Why the long lines? Because in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and has the vast majority of the state's registered Democrats, there was no place to vote: In the 2012 primary, Maricopa County had 200 polling places for 300,000 voters. This year it had 60 polling places for an estimated 800,000 registered voters. The results were predictable:
In the 2008 Democratic primary, Election Day turnout in Maricopa County was 113,807; this year it was only 32,949. In other words: Tens of thousands of voters were likely prevented from casting a ballot.
Aside from the long lines, misfiled voter registrations prevented many in Arizona from voting:
Leaders from the Arizona branch of the Democratic Party have confirmed that its lawyers are officially making an inquiry after multiple Democratic voters showed up to the polls only to find that they were listed as independents, Republicans, or had no party affiliation at all.
Many voters wound up having to wait in line under the hot Arizona sun only to find that they were ineligible to vote for the candidates of their choice. To add insult to injury, the polling locations have been so poorly planned that many voters had to wait in line up to four hours before finding out that their information had been improperly filed.
Arizona officials claim that computer glitches were responsible for the problems. But at least one angry voter took matters into her own hands and found evidence of outright voter suppression:
I went to the Pima County Recorders office and video taped the whole thing. Here's what they are doing. They are copying voter registration cards changing the date and the party preference. They can't change the original because that goes out to the party. At first she tried to say I sent in a second voter registration card (of course I didn't not) then she changes her story to its a computer glitch then states it's an error.
But the incredibly low turnout on Election Day was good news for Clinton because most of her supporters had already voted by mail: Voters under 30 accounted for only 7 percent of Democratic early voters compared to 41 percent for the over 65 crowd, a demographic which strongly favors Clinton.
After Clinton was declared the winner in Arizona, her campaign counsel wrote a message to furious Bernie voters on Reddit, stating that he shared their "concerns" about what happened in Arizona:
The way Arizona administered its elections last night is absolutely, unequivocally unacceptable. It's the result of a larger Republican effort to make it harder for people to vote.
What happened in Arizona is bad for BOTH Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, and supporters of both campaigns should come together to make sure this is addressed before November.
First of all, as the numbers clearly show, voter suppression in Maricopa County allowed Clinton to rely on her lead with early voters. And if the Clinton campaign really thinks that what happened in Arizona was "unacceptable", why not void the results and hold a new primary? Isn't it incredible that the Clinton campaign vows to ensure that Arizona voters have the right to vote - in November? Apparently the right to vote becomes important only when Clinton is the presumed Democratic nominee.
Considering that Hillary Clinton can't seem to follow simple debate rules, it's hard to believe that she cares too much about preserving the integrity of the electoral process.
It's amazing that 30 percent of Americans still have faith in this system.