At the Clark County DEM convention?
The facts remain somewhat murky, but a few things are clear. Background:
On 2/20/16 NV voters gathered for the 2016 DEM presidential caucuses. The caucuses were open to any eligible voter at least 18 years old on 11/8/16. Same day DEM registration was allowed for those not previously registered or not previously registered as a Democrat. The only other requirement was that voters were restricted to the caucus held in their residential precinct with the exception of casino workers that were permitted to caucus at casino caucus sites.
The results of the Clark County caucuses were:
HRC: 4,889 delegates
Sanders: 4,026 delegates.
HRC was declared the winner of the NV caucuses because 75% of the votes were cast in Clark County and she won 55% of those delegates. (Senator Reid did whip the owners of several casinos to give employee time-off to attend caucuses and whipped union leaders to get them to caucus for HRC. Not clean, but there was nothing Sanders’ campaign could do about that.)
The delegates were actual people chosen by the voters in each caucus to represent their caucus day choice — an estimated average ratio of caucus voters to delegates was nine to one. The delegates agreed to attend the county convention to be held on 4/2/16. Each faction also chose a number of alternates that could stand-in for no-show delegates at the convention. Unelected alternates were also permitted to fill seats that remained open if attendance by delegates and alternates fell short for either candidate. (Per Las Vegas Sun.)
The process for delegate participation at the convention was detailed here. Very disturbing that it involved the purchase of tickets. Although at the bottom and in fine print it did state that one need not pay for a ticket. This was how delegates could pre-register on-line for the convention. (Unknown how many delegates took advantage of this registration option.)
To the best anyone has been able to determine, the Clark County DEM Party (CCDP) sent an e-mail to all delegates last week (probably on Wednesday but it could have been Tuesday) informing them of their registration options and how the Saturday convention would be handled. (Not known if the e-mail distribution included alternates or anyone else.) Delegates, alternatives, and others could pre-register Friday evening at the convention site or register during the morning hours before the convention. A convention credential committee (with two members from the HRC and Sanders voter groups) was present during both registration periods. Not known if all registrations passed through this committee or they were called upon when the papers were not fully in order for someone registering. (Will return to this later.) (There was also a report that up to 20% of Sanders’ voters/delegates were told that they weren’t in the delegate list. Not known if this was true or false.)
What is known is that this communication from the CCDP contained a serious error. To wit:
“If you check-in or register as a delegate on Friday April 1st it is not required for you to be present at the convention on Saturday April 2nd,” the email said. “If you check-in or register as an alternate on Friday, April 1st it is required for you to be at the convention on Saturday April 2nd no later than 12:00 Noon.”
Totally false. Delegates that didn’t attend the convention were “no shows” and therefore, non-participants in the second round of the caucuses.
There was Facebook chatter about this from Wednesday on, at least among Sanders’ voters. It appears that the HRC campaign e-mailed its delegates informing them that they had to attend the convention. (See e-facsimile here.) There were several reports (which I’ll take as accurate) that at the Friday evening registration, HRC campaign workers distributed a hard-copy of this communication to HRC registrants. The Sanders’ campaign issued a standard e-mail to their delegates that they must attend the convention.
Not known is the number that pre-registered and how many, if any, didn’t attend the convention and which candidate they were supporting. The CCDP should know how many registered on-line, on Friday evening, and on Saturday morning and those numbers should be demanded. Comparing those totals to the number at the convention would tell us something. More than that will not be forthcoming from the party.
After the convention realignment and all delegates took their seats (some hell broke out before then which I’ll cover later), the results were:
Over 3,000 people could have and didn’t attend the convention. A big woo-hoo from Sanders’ delegates, campaign, and on-line supporter observers. The HRC forces were out in huge numbers to reject that Sanders won NV and also to accuse the Sanders’ campaign of having lied, cheated, engaged in dirty tricks, and not being honorable by not accepting the results of the caucus as the final word. All the noise, to use a polite word, from those accusations made it difficult for Sanders’ campaign and supporters to nail down exactly what had happened.
Others have covered the “drama” that broke out at the convention, and while the relevant facts haven’t been nailed down, a reliable enough basic narrative does exist.
Christine Kramer was the chair of the credentials committee. In that capacity, she had agreed to act as a neutral party. On Friday evening there were charges and counter-charges of HRC and Sanders delegates attempting to cheat. (Again the details of that are missing.) Ms. Kramer, either before or after the Friday evening registration, forwarded a communication to the Sanders’ campaign that she claims the CCDP Executive Committee had sent to the HRC campaign but not the Sanders’ campaign. (The details of that communication have not been reported.) Before the convention convened on Saturday, Marc Elias, General Counsel to Hillary for America issued a request to the Chair of the CCDP Executive Committee for the removal of Ms. Kramer based on allegations. The Committee met and ordered that Ms. Kramer be removed. The other three members of the credentials committee stood in solidarity with Ms. Kramer. The police were called to eject Ms. Kramer.
As Mahablog notes, it’s not yet known if Ms. Kramer was removed from the convention and much of the reporting has been sloppy at best. Also note that there weren’t any brouhahas at the other NV county conventions.
Too much of this isn’t adding up for me as “mistakes were made” by the CCDP. But can all the pieces be discovered and disclosed to clarify what may have been an active attempt to suppress delegate attendance to benefit one candidate?
What to look at:
All communications issued by the CCDP to delegates subsequent to the caucuses. Was there just the one with the significant error or were there earlier ones?
When and how were delegates informed of the on-line registration for the convention?
Did HRC for America and Sanders’ campaign issue any e-mail letters to their delegates other than the HRC letter that’s in evidence and/or simple reminders to register and show up? About on-line registration? About purchasing tickets to the convention?
What was in the communication from the DEM committee to HRC-FA that Kramer forwarded to the Sanders’ rep?
What are the registration numbers versus the 5,340 attendance number?
Both campaigns claim that their supporters are the most committed. Evidence for that claim by either campaign is mixed. It’s a huge stretch to postulate that the Sanders’ campaign had the ability to suppress HRC delegate convention attendance. However, there is no “smoking gun” in evidence that there was suppression of Sanders’ delegates either.
Unless someone is willing and able to dig much further into all of this, once again voters will have to choose what to believe.
Some things to consider from the ’08 Clark Co. convention:
Although more than 7,000 delegates to the county convention had been elected at the Jan. 19 caucuses, …
That is contrary to the reports that the ’16 caucus attendance was down from ’08 when 8,915 delegates were elected.
…it was entirely unsurprising that the Clinton and Obama campaigns, locked in a tight delegate battle that could go all the way to the national convention, would call their supporters and tell them to show up at Bally’s so they could be alternates to replace the no-shows.
They did and an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 people showed up. That exceeded the capacity of the convention site and the party also didn’t have the capacity to register all the alternates that attempted to attend. In addition the party list of elected delegates was only 6,000 when over 7,000 were elected at the caucuses and the convention site only had a capacity of 5,000. Voting was suspended that day and a do-over was scheduled for April 12. (Results? If published, I can’t find it.)
Seems odd that neither HRC nor Sanders replicated what HRC and Obama did in ’08. One would think that the experienced team (that includes both HRC and Obama ’08 reps) would have gone that route. Team Sanders may have been too inexperienced to do the same. OTOH, it’s not so easy to keep such an operational strategy hidden from an opponent.
Perhaps HRC outsourced it to the CCDP this time around and as she’d gotten the public relations prize of a caucus night win, whatever the conventions produced weren’t important enough for her team to bother with them.
Guess what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.