Iowa GOP chair Matt Strawn was largely mum when I asked yesterday about a tip I got that the state party was moving the vote-tabulation away from their headquarters to an “undisclosed location.” But after the Iowa GOP HQ was flooded today with questions from Ron Paul backers and conspiracy-minded types about why the Republicans were compiling the votes from the state’s 99 counties in private, the state party’s executive director confirmed that they were going off-site and said it was only to avoid a sabotage.
“The Party is simply moving off-site in the event that protesters or others attempt to disrupt the reporting process by cutting phone lines, etc,” said party ED Chad Olsen. He added: “Every vote is counted. Every vote is reported. The vote-counting process is carried out in public.”
Caucus goers assemble in their individual precincts. There are 1774 in Iowa. When the time comes for the Presidential preference poll, individuals are allowed to speak and advocate for a candidate. At the conclusion of speeches, slips of paper are handed out and people write down their choice for candidate. Those slips are collected, taken to a table, and counted in the open, with campaign representatives allowed to stand directly around the tabulator counting the votes. In the presence of everyone, the vote totals are announced and recorded on an official form provided by the Republican Party of Iowa. This form is signed by two separate caucus officials who were previously elected by the members of the assembled body.
One person is designated to report the results to the Party, again in the presence of campaign representatives for verification, so that results can be aggregated and shared with the media in a timely manner. A high-level campaign representative is also present at the Party office where precinct results are being aggregated.
Those same campaign representatives on the ground in all 1774 precincts are able to “check” the results being reported in the media against their own observations in that precinct. If a discrepancy were to appear, the can alert both their respective campaign as well as the Party.