Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail at Texas Caucuses

Last night, the Clinton camp sent this letter to the Texas Democratic State Party chair. You'll be hearing lots of spin from other camps in the news in the next few days, so I thought I'd provide both the original letter and a bit of context.

In Texas,  Democratic Party caucuses are done with sign-in sheets as a verifiable paper trail for deciding the proportion of delegates to be awarded to each candidate for President.  That is, each attendee signs in and identifies who they are representing in writing.  There is no provision for 'hand counts' or other methods of counting votes for delegates.  All caucus attendees are required to prove that they voted in the primary in order to be included in the final count.  If for any reason an attendee does not have their voter registration card with them, the voting rolls from the early vote and the on-the-day vote are available to precinct workers to refer to prior to allowing an attendee to sign in as an eligible attendee.

For the last 2 weeks, there have been a multitude of reports of misbehavior, sloppy math (when determining final caucus totals), people who attended -- and voted -- in the caucuses who were not even registered to vote (some of these were even selected as delegates) and more and more and more.

The Texas Democratic Party -- at a minimum -- is supposed to 1) verify that the caucus attendees were registered voters, 2) determine that the math was done correctly and 3) provide lists of (at least their own) delegates to each campaign.  The TDP has been so overwhelmed, both with the numbers of attendees to check and the size and frequency of the problems, that they say they cannot accomplish these tasks prior to the scheduled County/State Senatorial Conventions on March 29.

The Clinton campaign has requested that the County/State Senatorial Conventions be delayed until that information can be provided and the State Party can accomplish its job.

Texas has a paper trail for caucus results and delegate selection. That the State Party is essentially saying "Yeah we do, but we don't have time to look at it" is a failure of the highest order.  This HAS to be dealt with at this next stage in the process, or the process breaks down completely.

No one knows what the results of actually referring to the paper trail will be.   It could net Obama more delegates, it could net Clinton more delegates.  BOTH camps should be joining to demand that the paper trail be examined.

The text of the letter from the Clinton campaign follows:

We want to congratulate you on the extraordinary turnout of voters across the State of Texas who participated in the March 4 Democratic presidential primary and precinct conventions. We appreciate the unprecedented administrative challenges the high turnout presented. Fortunately, the Texas Democratic Party has under its Rules and the Texas Delegate Selection Plan requirements designed to ensure that the process in which eligible voters participate is fair and one in which they can have confidence, and when there are deficiencies, requirements to ensure that those deficiencies are rectified. In this regard we are writing to express our concerns regarding the review and tally of the official results of the State Party's precinct conventions on March 4. As you are no doubt aware, there are significant questions about whether the precinct conventions were conducted in accordance with the Party's Delegate Selection Plan and Rules. On the night of the caucus itself we brought many instances of these irregularities to the attention of the State Party. The campaign received in excess of 2,000 complaints of rules violations, indicating widespread violations of the Party's rules, including the following specific occurrences that are clear violations of specific rules:

  • Temporary Chair packets were released by the election judge prior  to 7:00 pm
  • Sign-in sheets were filled out before 7:00 pm
  • Precincts were consolidated for purposes of holding a convention
  • Precinct caucuses began before polls closed for the primary
  • Ineligible participants voted or ineligible delegates were elected,  including participants who were not registered voters, participants  who did not vote in the primary, provisional voters whose votes were      counted, and no verification was made of the eligibility of       participants or delegates
  • Accurate written records of participants, presidential preferences, and elected delegates were not kept
  • Participants' names and presidential preference were entered on  sign-in sheets by someone other than the eligible individual participant
  • Results were taken from a head count or hand count rather than the written roll
  • Delegate votes were not ratified by the precinct convention
  • Failure to follow Robert's Rules of Order at the precinct  convention

We have had several conversations with the State Party since March 4, including conversations with Chad Dunn, regarding the procedures that the State Party intends to follow to insure that the rules were followed and that only the votes of eligible participants would be considered. We understood that we were to receive a memorandum regarding that process, but were advised yesterday that instead we would be invited to a briefing on Monday, March 17.

Last week our Counsel, Lyn Utrecht, was told by Mr. Dunn that the State Party intended to verify the eligibility of participants and that the Party's IT people were working on a system for doing that electronically. On Tuesday the 11th, when Ms. Utrecht contacted Mr. Dunn to inquire about the status of the memorandum regarding the procedures, she was advised that the State Party no longer intended to verify the eligibility of participants or delegates because the Party would not have the ability to do that before the County Conventions. This was confirmed by Mr. Dunn yesterday.

Therefore, it is our understanding that the results will be counted and delegates awarded based on a count of votes without any and without any certification by the Precinct Chairs or County and Senate District Chairs that they completed a thorough review of the eligibility of participants and delegate candidates.

Thus it will be left to the campaigns to file credentials challenges against those delegates awarded based on the votes of ineligible participants, without the State Party making any effort to identify ineligible participants. We were advised yesterday that we will begin to receive copies of the scanned sign-in sheets sometime early next week and that it will not be until the end of next week when we will receive all of this data. In order to review this, the campaigns will also need access to the voter rolls to determine who voted in the primary held that day. While the State Party has indicated that it will request this information from the larger counties and provide it, it is unclear how soon that information will be available. For the smaller counties, the campaigns must request it from each county.

We believe this is in direct contravention of the Rules, which require that the Party determine the eligibility of participants and that only the votes of eligible participants are counted. Moreover, if the Party's reason for not ensuring that only eligible participants are counted is based on the fact that the Party cannot complete the review process prior to the scheduled date of the County and Senate District Conventions, the campaigns can't possibly complete this review in a timely fashion. Credentials challenges are presently due March 26.

We believe that (1) it is a violation of the Party's Delegate Selection Plan and Rules for the Party not to ensure that the eligibility of participants was determined before their votes are counted; and (2) if the Party cannot complete this task in time to hold the next level conventions on March 29, those conventions must be postponed until such time as accurate presidential preference counts can be made based on a review of each and every sign in sheet to determine eligibility of participants and delegates.

It is a violation of the rights of legitimate participants to have their true vote count distorted by violations of the Party's Rules.

It is the Party's responsibility to ensure the integrity of the precinct convention process by making sure that the Rules were followed and that the final official results of the precinct conventions are accurate and in compliance with the Rules.

Therefore, we respectfully request that the Party explain to both campaigns what procedures will be followed to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the precinct convention results and agree to postpone the County and Senate District Conventions until such time as that process can be completed.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that the votes of the people who participated in the March 4 primary and precinct conventions are accurately counted.

Tags: clinton, obama, paper trail, texas, verified voting (all tags)



Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

Count the votes, Dems. Count the votes.

No excuses, count the votes.

by Pacific John 2008-03-16 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

BTW, I have some really funny stories to tell after this is over.

by Pacific John 2008-03-16 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

There is at least one rural county where individuals who didn't vote in the primary were selected as delegates.  In fact, those individuals who were selected (turns out) weren't event registered to vote.

IN some of the rural counties in Texas, the County Chairs have been working like crazy to do TDP's job for them.

In larger counties, it's impossible to do without substantial computer time.  The TDP just yesterday hired someone to begin the process of creating a database with the caucus sign-in sheets.

They say they can't be finished by March 29th.

A delay won't be fatal, but if they don't provide this information, it could result in all the caucus delegates being tossed at the State or  National Convention.

Do it now.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

email me:

I'm on these issues as part of a field office.

by Pacific John 2008-03-16 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

It's fair - my precinct was twice what they predicted for caucus turnout.  Accordingly, they ran out of the sign-in sheets and were looking for spare papers to create more sign-in sheets.  Our actual convention didn't really start until 8:45, and even then, it was a bit ridiculous. I got out at 9:30.

They absolutely need to verify every vote before we move on.

by ejintx 2008-03-16 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

The MyDD headline under "Breaking Blue" and the accompanying link is framing this as Hillary delaying the process on other grounds than seeking the Truth.

But as many Texas caucus attendees have attested - Obama supporters exercised aggressive and bullying tactics - as they have in other caucus states.

by annefrank 2008-03-16 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

I guess Matt didn't understand what the issues are.

But then, stories get spun, and the uninformed don't know the difference.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

I don't know anything about Matt Glazer.
But a more honest title would have been "Hillary seeking the Truth in Texas."

Sadly, it's Obama followers who seem opposed to "counting every vote" - correctly.

by annefrank 2008-03-16 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

The issue is that TDP is breaking its own rules by not doing its job in a timely manner.  TDP needs to provide the required information so that the Committees (like Credentials) at the County Conventions can do their jobs.

It's as simple as that.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Texas caucuses were an entirely farcical excercise where nobody had any idea what anybody was doing. Random people took charge at caucus locations where there was complete chaos with hardly anybody looking for verification, etc. So, yes, we do need to verify who voted. For example, at my location, we didn't even have write in materials-we used campaign material to write voters' names on it. By the way, since nobody was incharge, my friend, a staunch Obama supporter took over the proceedings. While I have no reason to doubt his integrity, I can hardly say the same about the 1000s others who ran this joke.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Heck, I'm an Obama guy and I think that every vote should have a paper trail; I hate these Diebold machines with no verification.  But, even with these paper trails, HRC would still be way behind in pledged delegates.  Sorry if the truth hurts.

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

dude, eitehr you're for democracy or you aren't. "truth hurts" etc. is hardly necessary.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Dude, learn how to spell.  You know the reason for Hillary's protest is to try to make gains in a caucus where she got served.  My point was that even with a paper trail, she will lose the caucus.  You know as well as I do that if she had won the caucus, she would not be doing any of this.  Dude, you get it?

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Learn to spell? That's the best you can come up with?! You aren't even worth my time. Go hold your Obama cult signs.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Dude, you can't read.  Were you unable to comprehend the rest of my comment.  Apparently not.  Go back to school.

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Like I said, if Obama believes in the process, he should be joining the Clinton campaign in asking for a delay.

It doesn't matter who gets 'more delegates' from TDP doing its job in time for the rest of the process to work.  If the process doesn't matter, the push for paper trails in ANY election doesn't matter.

I'm not willing to risk the consequences for future elections, are you?

by TxKat 2008-03-16 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

It's not up to Obama, it's up to the Texas DNC; they told him the rules, he followed them (as did Hillary) and now that she has lost she wants to, yet again, change the rules after the fact, like she tried to do in Nevada, like she's trying to do in MI and FL.  If the results are in her favor, she claims victory; if Obama wins, she cries foul.  If you folks in TX could get your ** together, like the fools in FL and MI, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

The problem is that rules weren't followed. A lot of Obama supporters running the precints turned the process into a joke letting people who shouldn't even be voting vote. They wrote names on their own, turned away voters, etc. This isn't crying "foul"; this is what happened.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

By the way, you probably think Gore did the right thing by not crying foul and following election rules is uncool!

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

Not that it matters for this particular diary, but the TDP issued 2 legal opinions warning the Obama campaign that it was in violation of caucus rules at about 2 in the afternoon on election day.

No, the Obama campaign was not 'playing by the rules' but the fallout from that will be dealt with at the Conventions in the Rules and Credentials committees.

The problem is more fundamental.  TDP cannot provide information required by its own Charter in order to the Committees at the County Conventions to do their work.

If you can't even verify that a caucus attendee was a registered voter, then the entire system's flaws will get ALL the caucus results tossed.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

We'd just like to know the Truth - and it seems Hillary does too.

by annefrank 2008-03-16 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail

It doesn't matter who comes out ahead if TDP follows its own rules.

If the caucus process can be validated with a paper trail, it should be.  I'm surprised though that the Obama camp hasn't joined in the effort.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

Excellent! Thank you for this very important diary.

by Fleaflicker 2008-03-16 08:47AM | 0 recs
I'm Glad!!

Having been an observer from Cali in Houston on behalf of Hillary's campaign, it was the most outrageous thing I've ever witnessed (the caucus) and completely unfair and undemocratic.

I saw young people showing up with nothing more than a TX driver's license voting for Obama.

I tried to stop them and brought it to the election judge who told me "don't disenfranchise voters". (he was an obama supporter).

The rule was that everyone needed to prove they not only voted already (with their stamped voter's card), but also at that precinct.

I was told by the election judge that if they did not have their stamped card or proof then their TX DL was good enough!!!

How fraudulent!!!

by nikkid 2008-03-16 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

Complain to Bubba, he helped to set up the process.  Oh, it's okay if it works out okay for your candidate, but if not, then it's suddenly wrong.  Bill won the state's prima-caucuses twice this way; I guess we should go back and disqualify the votes now.  Get a grip.

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

Hey, why didn't you lodge a protest if there was something wrong when Bill ran? Wait, you're not even from Texas and don't have a clue what we're talking about.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

I didn't say anything was wrong with the process, that gal from Cali said there was; all I said, and again, please learn how to read, was that if she doesn't like the process, she can blame Bubba, as he helped set up the process.  

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

Clinton likes the process. So does anyone who knows how the process is supposed to work.  Any observer who is used to a more orderly process would have been appalled.

I was and I've been around Texas caucus politics enough to know what was 'noise' from too many people and not enough resources and what were serious violations of the integrity of the process.

The problem is that TDP apparently thinks because they're under a time crunch (with the County Conventions being held on the 29th), the integrity of the process doesn't matter.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

I wasn't there. I WAS there for this caucus and I'm telling you what I observed. and, what I observed is what hundreds of other people also observed.

by nikkid 2008-03-16 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

yes, this happened at many places! being from california (living in texas now) this was quite shocking. but obama supporters will go to any extent to win. his political career started that way.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

Right, and Billary won't do and say anything to win?  Right.  First you Clintonites say he can't fight; then you say he doesn't fight fair; now that you're losing you cry foul.  LOL, you guys are a riot.

by PittsburghPete 2008-03-16 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Glad!!

I'm actually a John Edwards supporter who is a little bit dissapointed at, shall we say, the lack of commitment to Democracy that Obama displays.

by texasdextrous 2008-03-16 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

You miss the point entirely.

TDP can't even verify if the voters at the caucuses were actually registered to vote.  The rules of the TDP are clear..... the TDP's problem is that they can't do the work they are supposed to do before the County Conventions on March 29th.

The Clinton campaign has asked that the TDP follow its own rules and complete the needed work before the County Conventions are held.

Hey, if they fail to do it, and all of the caucus results are tossed, that's actually WORSE for the Obama camp.  It could happen.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

It gets better - if it's true that people voted without showing their voter registration card or some other county issued form, then the counties and the TDP will need to sit down and figure out if everyone's voter ID numbers match.  We might be talking no conventions until right up until the national one...

by ejintx 2008-03-16 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

Clinton camp supports changing the rules after they've lost.

by pitahole 2008-03-16 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

Following the rules is not changing them.

Allowing the process to be subverted in the name of expediency is not the way democracy works.

Or did you think that the 2000 election was handled correctly after all?

by TxKat 2008-03-16 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

WTF are you talking about?

by pitahole 2008-03-16 10:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

When delegates to the County Conventions are 'elected' who are not even registered voters -- much less registered in the precinct they're voting in -- it's a problem.

When supporters of one candidate or the other are locked out of the caucus site (so that the police had to be called) -- that's a problem.

When TDP has to issue legal directives in the middle of the afternoon for one campaign to stop collecting signatures (as though those people attended the caucus when it hasn't even happened yet) that['s a problem.

TDP's rules govern caucus proceedings.  The Clinton camp has asked that they take the time to pay attention to them.  Anything else is a travesty in the same vein of the Republicans' contention in 2000 that the 'rules' didn't matter.

I've supported verifiable paper trails since 2000.  Since we have them in this caucus process, we should take the time to use them and not subvert the system in the name of expediency.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

But the desire here is that the outcome will be different in the end.

by pitahole 2008-03-16 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

As I said in my post... no one knows 'the outcome' and I hesitate to attribute motive to anyone.  I could have written that "Obama doesn't want to allow TDP enough time to complete the process because he's afraid to lose delegates".

I didn't write that because I don't really care if one side or the other gains a delegate or two and I don't presume to KNOW what motivates either side -- I just know that the whole process is a shambles.

It could be that Clinton gets more delegates.... maybe Obama will.

TDP needs to take the time necessary to do their job.  They only hired a database firm to BEGIN it yesterday.

The Clinton camp should be applauded and Obama's campaign should join them in demanding that they spend whatever time is necessary to insure voter integrity.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

OK, I'll try not to see this as obfuscation or delaying tactics by camp Clinton. It'll be hard, but I'll try.

by pitahole 2008-03-16 11:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a


We all have a responsibility to make sure elections are fair and the process is transparent.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

Indeed we do. May the best Obama win ;)

by pitahole 2008-03-16 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

Are they doing it any differently than from when Bill ran there? Have you forgotten Hillary's own admission that the Texas primary+caucus was making "grown men cry" in describing the effect the rules were having on her campaign staff?

Why would grown men be crying? Bill ran there years ago, her staff are the same folks whom ran Bill's campaign. What the hell is it going to take to convince Hillary's most vociferous supporters on this site that her campaign was simply not ready to play this out and as a result they let Obama take the ball and run all the way down to the 10 yard line.

Diary after diary after diary of stupid whining and excuses on behalf of Hillary -- or hits on Obama on based on innuendo. Barring Obama being caught with his pants down trying to make out with an armadillo, this primary is over and he's the nominee. Either get with the program or register as a republican.

by pitahole 2008-03-16 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton camp supports a verified paper trail a

I believe I've answered your questions above.  No one is 'whining'.

by TxKat 2008-03-16 11:13AM | 0 recs


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