Take One: Romney.  Take Two: Santorum

"Romney Wins By 8 Votes" proclaimed the headline of the January 4 Des Moines Register.  The result, although all but a tie, gave Romney momentum going into New Hampshire, while Santorum's close second also provided him a boost.  However, very soon afterwards a bit of controversy arose over the vote tally in Appanoose County; there was a suggestion that a 20-vote discrepancy may have given Romney his eight-vote margin.  (See the affidavit of Edward L. True as posted at watchthevote2012.com [1, 2]).  The controversy prompted the statement below from the Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn.  The Iowa GOP continued with its certification process over the next couple of weeks, and on January 19 announced certified vote totals which put Santorum ahead by 34 votes.  It must be noted that the certified results were missing eight precincts so there is no way of telling who "really" won.

Perceptions matter, and one wonders how the New Hampshire result might have been affected had Santorum been reported as the narrow winner of the caucuses.  The "take two" announcement came just a couple of days before the South Carolina primary and did provide a bit of a boost to Santorum and a ding on Romney. 

PRESS RELEASE from Republican Party of Iowa
January 5, 2012    
Statement from Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn Regarding Appanoose County Caucus Results
Des Moines -
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn statement regarding Appanoose County caucus results:
"Iowa GOP rules provide for a two-week certification process for each of the 1,774 precincts.  The Iowa GOP will announce the final, certified results of the 2012 Iowa Causes following this process. Out of respect to the candidates involved, party officials we will not respond to every rumor, innuendo or allegation during the two week process.  That said, Iowa GOP officials have been in contact with Appanoose County Republican officials tonight and do not have any reason to believe the final, certified results of Appanoose County will change the outcome of Tuesday's vote."
PRESS RELEASE from Republican Party of Iowa
January 18, 2012    
Update on Iowa Caucus Presidential Preference Vote Certification Process
Following the closest vote total in the history of the Iowa Caucuses, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today provided an update on the vote certification process, timeline for the public release of results, and the availability of certification documents for public inspection.

As noted during the announcement of the Caucus Night vote totals, Iowa GOP rules provide for a 14-day period by which each of Iowa's 99 counties are required to submit to a Form E document from each of the caucus precincts within the county. The Form E document is the official record of the presidential preference vote in each of Iowa's 1,774 precincts. The 14-day period sets close of business (5 p.m. CST), Wednesday, January 18 as the deadline for county Republican officials to submit the Form E documents.

Iowa GOP staff is working throughout the day to assist counties and precincts in meeting this requirement by today's 5 p.m. deadline. 
Timeline for Public Release of Results & Inspection of Form E Certification Documents:

The Iowa GOP will publicly release the certified vote totals of the 2012 Republican Caucuses at 8:15 a.m. (CST) on Thursday, January 19. The certified "Form E" precinct documents will then be made available for inspection by presidential campaign representatives at 9:00 a.m. (CST) at the Republican Party of Iowa Headquarters in Des Moines. The certified "Form E" precinct documents will then be made available for inspection by members of the news media starting at 11:00 a.m. (CST).

PRESS RELEASE from Republican Party of Iowa
January 19, 2012
Iowa GOP Releases Certified Iowa Caucus Presidential Preference Vote Totals
 Des Moines, IA – The Republican Party of Iowa today released the final, certified vote totals of the January 3 Iowa Caucus presidential preference vote. The final, certified vote totals represent 1,766 of the state’s 1,774 caucus precincts, and reflect a record-breaking 121,503 Iowans who participated.
2012 Iowa Republican Caucus Certified vote totals (1766/1774 precincts certified)
Rick Santorum             29,839
Mitt Romney               29,805
Ron Paul                      26,036
Newt Gingrich             16,163
Rick Perry                    12,557
Michele Bachmann       6,046
Jon Huntsman                  739
No Preference                  147
Other                                 86
Herman Cain                     45
Sarah Palin                        23
Buddy Roemer                  17
Total (1766/1774)       121,503
Certified vote totals were unavailable for eight of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts. Full, certified vote totals per precinct are available online at www.iowagop.org.
 “Just as I did in the early morning hours on January 4, I congratulate Senator Santorum and Governor Romney on a hard-fought effort during the closest contest in caucus history,” said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn. “Our goal throughout the certification process was to most accurately reflect and report how Iowans voted the evening of January 3. We understand the importance to the candidates involved, but as Iowans, we understand the responsibility we have as temporary caretakers of the Iowa caucuses.””
As Strawn noted during the January 4 announcement of unofficial caucus night vote totals, Iowa GOP rules provided for a 14-day period by which each of Iowa’s 99 counties were required to submit a Form E document from each of the caucus precincts within the county. The Form E document is the official record of the presidential preference vote in each of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts.  The deadline for county Republican officials to submit the Form E documents was 5 p.m. (CST) on Wednesday, January 18.  Following Wednesday’s deadline, Iowa GOP officials were able to certify results from 1,766 of the state’s 1,774 precincts.
 Strawn noted that a hallmark of the Iowa caucuses is the openness and transparency within which the proceedings occur.  Not only do voting Iowans and presidential campaign representatives have the opportunity to observe the vote counting in each of the state’s precincts, but each presidential campaign had senior campaign officials in the Iowa GOP’s official tabulation center on caucus night.
 Strawn indicated this openness and transparency will continue during the post-certification period as the Iowa GOP will be making the precinct caucus Form E documents submitted during the certification process available for review to both presidential campaign officials and members of the media.
PRESS RELEASE from Republican Party of Iowa
January 20, 2012   

Republican Party of Iowa Affirms Santorum Winner of 2012 Iowa Caucus
In order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results released January 18 by the Republican Party of Iowa, Chairman Matthew Strawn and the State Central Committee declared Senator Rick Santorum the winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucus.

PRESS RELEASE from Rick Santorum for President

January 19, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Beynon


Mt. Pleasant, SC - Rick Santorum wins the Iowa Caucus.


Hogan Gidley, National Communications Director, said: "We've had two early state contests with two winners - and the narrative that Governor Romney and the media have been touting of 'inevitability' has been destroyed.   Conservatives can now see and believe they don't have to settle for Romney, the Establishment's moderate candidate - who authored the model for Obamacare that provided taxpayer funded abortions, who boasted that he was more socially liberal than Ted Kennedy, and who supported Wall Street bailouts. There is a consistent conservative alternative who has the proven record of reforming entitlements, defending the unborn, and standing up for American exceptionalism around the Globe - and has proven that he is the one man in this race able to defeat Mitt Romney. That candidate is Rick Santorum. This latest defeat of Governor Romney in Iowa is just the beginning, and Rick Santorum is committed to continuing the fight as the clear, consistent conservative voice in this race.

To learn more about former Senator Rick Santorum, please visit www.RickSantorum.com.

PRESS RELEASE from Common Cause
January 19, 2012

To really lead the nation in choosing a President, Iowans should clean up their caucus count
The vote counting flip-flop in Iowa’s Republican caucuses is an embarrassment to the party and the state and a warning that Republicans and Democrats alike need to tighten up the way they choose their presidential nominees, Common Cause said today.

“Since Iowa leaped to the front end of the presidential nominating process in the 1970s, the Hawkeye State’s voters – in both major parties – have shown an admirable seriousness about their responsibility as the first in the nation to screen the candidates,” said Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar.

“But in both parties, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the way that votes are collected and counted,” Edgar said. “Given the millions of dollars the candidates invest Iowa and the importance the state has assumed in choosingnominees, Republican and Democratic leaders alike owe it to Iowans and the nation to run a transparent process and provide a careful, accurate count.”

As the reported “winner” of the Jan. 3 GOP caucuses shifted from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum, the Des Moines Register reported Thursday that forms used to relay vote totals from local caucus meetings to state party headquarters were improperly or incompletely filled out in more than 100 precincts. In some cases, the forms were returned unsigned by precinct leaders responsible foractually counting the votes. Republicans also acknowledged that results from eight precincts simply disappeared and said there’ll be no effort to recover or count them.

Edgar said the Iowa GOP’s casual approach to vote collecting and counting in their caucuses is particularly surprising given the emphasis Republican lawmakersnationwide have placed on preventing vote fraud in the general election.

“Republicans seem to favor unreasonable and unnecessary voter identification requirements in November, when some of the people showing up at the polls might not be voting Republican, but take an anything goes approach when it comes to voting inside their party on prospective presidential nominees,” Edgar said. “It doesn’t add up.”

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.

Blair FitzGibbon
Vice President, FITZGIBBON Media, Inc.