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Iowa GOP Leaders to Examine, Improve Caucus Process

The state GOP chairman announced Monday party leaders will look at what went right — and wrong — on caucus night. The party was heavily criticized in January when votes were not counted and it took two weeks to declare Rick Santorum the state's winner.

Iowa Republicans have begun work to examine what went right on caucus night and what went wrong in the process, party officials announced in a news release Monday.

“The purpose of the committee is to conduct a full audit and review of the Republican Caucus,” said Bill Schickel, state party co-chairman, who will lead the overview. “We’re going to review what went right and what went wrong. We will fix what went wrong and promote what went right.” 

The party received heavy criticism from Iowa voters and from national presidential campaigns and the media for the delay in declaring a winner of the Jan. 3 caucuses. And then the canvas of votes changed the winner from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Caucus Results Mayhem

Two weeks after the Jan. 3 vote seemed to end with Romney the winner, Santorum was pronounced the winner of certified tallies. Iowa GOP officials had spent two weeks checking vote counts to find that results changed in 131 precincts around the state and votes from eight precincts were never turned in.

So the certified results gave Santorum the win, but then-Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn wouldn't declare the former Pennsylvania Senator the outright winner, telling the press that wasn't his place.

The move created drew more fire to the Iowa GOP's handling of the caucuses, and resulted in a brief statement 3 days later that affirmed Santorum as the winner of the Iowa Caucuses.

Since then, Strawn has stepped down as the party chairman and his successor, A.J. Spiker, announced the review of the caucus process this morning.

The release said the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee Monday approved the formation of a 17-member Iowa Caucus Review Committee and confirmed Chairman A.J. Spiker’s nominees to the committee. 

The committee will be chaired by RPI Co-Chairman Bill Schickel. Iowa Secretary of State Deputy of Elections Mary Mosiman will serve as committee co-chair.

“My challenge to the committee is to bring back recommendations that will build upon the most open and transparent presidential preference process in the country,” Spiker said. 

The committee will hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 26 in Des Moines. Future meetings will be held in other communities across the state. 

Committee members will be assigned to sub-committees on public relations, operations and training. A research subcommittee will gather data and background information for the committee. 

The committee and each of the sub-committees will be asking for ideas and suggestions from experts and ordinary citizens alike throughout the state and nation, Schickel said.

“Although this will be a review of the Republican caucuses, we will be acting in consultation with our colleagues in the Democrat Party,” Schickel said. “Having open, honest and transparent caucuses is in the interest of all Iowans.”

The members of the Iowa Caucus Review Committee are:

  • Chair Bill Schickel, Cerro Gordo County
  • Co-Chair Mary Mosiman, Story County
  • Chad Olsen, Guthrie County
  • David Chung, Linn County
  • David Fischer, Polk County
  • David Oman, Polk County
  • Gwen Ecklund, Crawford County
  • Judy Davidson, Scott County
  • Kathy Pearson, Linn County
  • Kim Lehman, Polk County
  • Randy Erickson, Buena Vista County
  • Rev. Jamie Johnson, Webster County
  • Richard Schwarm, Winnebago County
  • Sen. Nancy Boettger, Shelby County
  • Steve Grubbs, Scott County
  • Steve Scheffler, Polk County
  • Wes Enos, Polk County
Deb Belt March 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Is this a case of shutting the barn door after the horse has gotten away? Or can the GOP polish its image with national opinion leaders if it makes substantive changes? A lot of folks asked why regular voting machines weren't used and it didn't seem like the GOP had a good answer.
Ken Troxel March 26, 2012 at 04:48 AM
I dislike the idea of using a secret ballot system for any caucus. To eliminate any potential for fraud, simply use a posted section and stand system. Section off the voting area with name of candidate and stand in that section for your vote. Then count off in your section to determine the vote. This system allows for each group to talk to others or undecideds to gain support. This system is fraud proof and interactive.

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