Maine’s Really, Really Screwed Up Caucus

So, you thought the people running the Iowa Caucuses, who had to count something like seven votes and yet declared the wrong winner, had egg on their face. Well, their buddies in Maine have upped the ante.

So, you thought the people running the Iowa Caucuses, who had to count something like seven votes and yet declared the wrong winner, had egg on their face. Well, their buddies in Maine have kicked it up a notch.

Bangor Daily News (“Pressure mounting for GOP caucus reconsideration“):

Pressure is mounting on the Maine Republican Party to reconsider its weekend declaration that Mitt Romney won the state’s caucuses, at least until all votes have been counted.

The Maine GOP announced Saturday that Romney narrowly edged Ron Paul, 39 percent to 36 percent, in a nonbinding presidential preference poll taken during the caucuses. The margin was fewer than 200 votes.

A number of communities were not included in that poll because they had not held their caucuses by the deadline spelled out by the state party.

Washington County Republicans postponed their caucuses, originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11, because of a pending snowstorm and will now meet this Saturday. Other communities across the states also have caucuses scheduled for this weekend and later this month.

All along, state GOP officials said communities knew that their votes would not be included in the final results if they did not hold their caucus by Feb. 11.

However, a review of the town-by-town results released Saturday by the Maine GOP suggests that some communities that had caucused prior to Feb. 11 were not counted. Nearly all Waldo County towns held caucuses on Feb. 4 but those towns were blank in the results released by the state party. Additionally, Waterville held its caucuses ahead of time but were not included in the results.

Now, I’ve never run an election and don’t claim any expertise in orchestrating this sort of process. However, having followed elections rather closely for more than three decades, a simple rule of thumb I’ve found useful is that elections should be held at a fixed point in time. Usually, a caucus is held simultaneously across a state in a matter of a few hours. It’s highly unusual–indeed, I’d say unprecedented–to allow localities to hold contests whenever they damned well feel like it and wait around to count the ballots until they’ve all gotten around to sending them in.

I suppose a snowstorm constitutes exigent circumstances. If the election is being held in Alabama. In Maine, however, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s going to snow in February. Which, incidentally, is one of many reasons states aren’t supposed to be holding primaries and caucuses this early in the cycle. Maybe next go-round they should hold their caucuses–or, I don’t know, a real primary–in May.

via Taegan Goddard

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sam says:

    In neighboring states, they’re called, with some affection, “Maineiacs”.

  2. J-Dub says:

    @sam: By Massholes, no doubt!

  3. sam says:

    Ah, the very thing.

  4. Jay says:

    Sounds like Maine to me (“The way life should be”).

  5. Eric says:

    If Iowa screwed up their Caucuses, and now it’s Maine, is this going to happen in other states as well? And the charge to get voter ID laws in placed when even these votes are messed up by election officials.

    This is dumb.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    Of course there’s the Nevada Caucus that took the GOP — what, 3 days I think — to count 33,000 votes. And the Missouri GOP that dithered over whether to have a caucus or a primary until the State held a primary for them and then they decided to let a caucus decide the real delegates. You’d think a party like that could surely run a national gov’t effectively wouldn’t ya? The Ron Paul Campaign guy (named Doug Wead, who lost me by wearing a Vandy Commodores tie) who was on Rachel Maddow last night said that the predicted snow storm that curtailed the caucus didn’t interrupt the Girl Scouts meetings planned for that same day.

  7. merl says:

    Except repubs can’t run a nat’l government, either.