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Changing the primary and caucus process

Updated on April 8, 2012

This election year there have been several caucus and primary elections across the country at this point in the race for the GOP Presidential nominee. Many individuals do not understand the caucus process except possibly those in caucus states but do understand the primary system of choosing delegates. The present structure of both processes currently leaves much to be desired in the way delegates are awarded. In becoming more informed about these processes I found some interesting facts. The number of delegates in many if not all states regardless of whether it is a primary or caucus are not all awarded to the candidates after the election is held. The impression given in media reports is that all the delegates are awarded. This aspect of reporting the quantity of delegates won by each of the candidates appears to be different dependent upon the candidate. While this may not necessarily be true the perception given reflects this aspect.

Changes need to be made to both processes to better reflect the will of the public who votes by awarding all delegates after an election is held. This would provide a better reflection of where candidates stand in terms of their delegate count and the opinion of the voters. One aspect about the caucus process though it has been around in our country since our early history involves representatives voting for a group of individuals not the individuals themselves.

Recent events related to the caucus process have raised questions about the integrity of the process and the votes which are actually cast for individual candidates. One major issue identified was voter fraud. Though this accusation has not been validated the possibility of such results occurring should cause states to rethink the process they have in place. It appears that political parties have the control of the process in each state to the extent they make the rules as to how caucuses will operate. This makes it difficult for states to have the control they need to instill integrity in the data results from their elections. This needs to change.

States need to stand up to the political parties to ensure the rules in place do not change just prior to a caucus or primary being held. It should also be the authority of the state to ensure the accuracy and integrity of counting the votes. Political parties are a necessary part of the political process but recent actions and/or information question the vote counting process. One example involved the Maine caucuses where the number of votes cast in specific precincts did not agree with the totals said to be received. In fact the votes received were indicated to be none compared to the number of votes submitted. This issue was apparently never resolved or identified to be resolved in the end totals reported for each of the candidates.

It is clear there are issues of what appears to be a lack of integrity in the vote counting process concerning the caucus system of election. The appearance of a problem is the key point to be made whether or not integrity actually exist it causes voters to lack confidence in the process. The political spectrum in the past and today has seen a large segment of voters disenfranchised with the political system and any issue which projects a lack of accuracy or integrity in the process turns voters off. The caucus process and the opportunity to change the rules at locations where they are held may indicate it is time to change from a caucus environment to a primary environment. The fact that a limited number of individuals speak for others is contrary to the political philosophy that every vote and every opinion counts. Individuals should have the right and opportunity to voice their opinion in any type of election held in each state. Limiting the quantity of individuals who speak for others does not project the support of or the lack of support for any political candidate or issue.

The primary process also needs to be changed not only who has control but how the delegates are awarded. States according to the Constitution have the right to schedule elections as they choose and not be penalized by political parties for scheduling them earlier than what a political party wants them to be held. Political parties in the current environment have too much control. States need to band together to notify the parties they have the responsibility to manage elections per the Constitution and that they are going to control the process not them.

In relation to political conventions which are held it is true that each political party has control over how they will be scheduled and managed. The current process of recognizing delegates should be changed to reflect the right of the states to manage the delegate allocation process. Delegates in any election whether it is a primary or a caucus should be awarded in their entirety and not have uncommitted delegates who will actually exercise their votes at the convention.

Political conventions are the end result of the competition between candidates running for President and are the final step in formally recognizing the nominee for President. One of the purposes of the convention is to energize the party base through political speeches by various influential individuals within the party. It is unclear as to who has total control over how delegates are awarded and when but any individuals involved need to change the process to fully awarding delegates. Changing how delegates are awarded will have no impact on convention activities. Nominees who have earned the required number of delegates prior to a convention do not change the party atmosphere as each state presents their delegate count for their candidate. Some may say that it is a process that has worked well through the years but it is a process that is not reflecting the will of the voters. The problem centers on the fact that the number of delegates reported for each candidate is not published in a consistent manner by the media.

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