[UPDATE 2: Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe has now made the accusation in the Atlantic, with over 200 separate allegations of irregularities at caucus sites. See also this diary by LV Pol Girl, and these diaries by hekebolos and by RunnerAAA].
[UPDATE: I'm not claiming that these tactics were enough to flip the results. In fact, I don't think so. Hillary probably won more actual Nevada voters anyway, and would have won them without the cheating (though Obama won more delegates, which is what matters). The point is to illustrate the nature of her campaign; how it reflects on her character; and how it affects the Democratic base.
Also, word on the ground is that caucuses on the Strip and in Reno were clean.
For all you doubters out there, all I can do is tell you what I directly experienced, and heard firsthand from other volunteers at the campaign office. As further corroboration, the Obama hotline to report irregularities was busy for a full ten minutes.
Finally, Obama supporters: please listen to Markos. He's right: Edwards people are not necessarily Obama 2nd choice: in fact, it's closer to the opposite. You're not doing us any favors.]
I'm reporting in from one of the Obama field offices in Clark County, NV. My girlfriend and I just came back from being the precinct captains at our caucus, and the scene here is ugly.
Everyone is reporting election irregularities on the part of the Hillary campaign. There is widespread cheating and voter suppression going on all over Clark County--and it's obviously coming in from the top down. Whether it made enough of a difference to swing the election is another question--but there is no question that Hillary was running a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred campaign in which all of her surrogates were instructed to cheat in every way possible.
To be clear about the caucus process here: caucus doors opened at 11am today; people are allowed to file in and register on location until 12 noon, at which time the doors close and no one else is admitted. Those registering were given non-binding ballots to fill out to help assess in case of problems with head count. At this point, the total number of people in the room are counted. Viability is determined (15%), and then the viable sections have 20 minutes to convince the uncommitteds/unviables. Final counts are then made.
Here are just a few of the irregularities from the Clinton campaign that have come to my ears, before I tell my own story. Word on the ground is that we have video of some of these shenanigans as well.
- UPDATE: The wording of the actual Party rules are unclear. At this point, it appears that the Hillary campaign may simply have interpreted the rules differently, rather than deliberately engaging in voter suppression. Regardless, however, the State Party interpreted the rules in our favor. No less than
foureight Obama captains (including myself) have reported that Clinton operatives tried to close the doors at 11:30--a full thirty minutes before the doors were supposed to close. In some cases I am hearing they actually succeeded, and voters were turned away before more knowledgeable people could get there to reopen them. The Clinton campaign had obviously told their people to be there by 11:30--and they knew that the higher the turnout, the worse for them.
- At least two reports of Clinton operatives telling the uncommitteds and Edwards supporters, once their numbers were deemed not viable, that they had to leave. Whether these tactics succeeded or not, I do not know. Obviously, the Clinton campaign knew that voters not already in her camp were unlikely to join her camp (I know from my own experience that I convinced many more undecideds than my opponent Hillary operative), so they attempted to suppress their vote.
- At least one report of Clinton operatives telling Obama supporters with viable numbers that they were not viable, and had to leave. From what I hear, some of those voters did in fact leave.
- At least two reports (including my own) of disabled voters being coerced into the Clinton camp against their will, or even having their voter card filled out for them against their will.
- A few reports of probable out-of-state Clinton operatives being counted among the voters--though since checking ID is illegal, and other Hillary operatives from in-state would vouch for them, it's impossible to say.
- At least one report of two large men standing outside the door checking voters for whom they would support, and telling all Obama people they were at the wrong location.
- At least one other report of Hillary operatives doing the check-in, and telling all Obama supporters that they were not on the list, could not register at the location (not true), and that they could not caucus.
- At least one report of ballots being filled out in advance for Hillary in mass.
- At least one report of Hillary supporters saying that the caucus location was just the Hillary room--and that Obama supporters had to go to a faraway location.
- At least one report of a voter registration list only in Spanish, and only with Hillary supporters on it. Obama supporters later found the registration list with the rest of the people--in the garbage can of the ladies restroom.
- Several reports of Hillary signs on the registration table, and Hillary supporters in Hillary shirts doing registration.
And there's much, much more. It's only just getting started to come through. How many of these tactics worked is unclear. Certainly, aggressive Obama volunteers like myself should have nipped many of these in the bud, but we're actually counting on concerned citizens who care--not machine operatives trained to cheat and brought up in the nearly criminal Nevada machine and the ruthless, conscience-less Hillary campaign.
Here's my story:
I got to the location at 10:30am and set up. The Hillary people were already there. In charge of them was a 60-ish woman with a slight Brooklyn accent. Here were the irregularities in my precinct alone:
- The Hillary operative tried to force the doors to close at 11:30am. KK was outside greeting people, and she overheard the Hillary campaign mention that the doors would be closing at 11:30am, and she went to talk to the precinct chair. So we intervened and said that that was absolutely not legal by the rules. She then started screaming at the chair to close the doors. When he read the rules that they were open until 12noon, she said that "that's not what I was told, other campaigns were spreading misinformation." We stood our ground, and the doors remained open.
- A man in a wheelchair came in with his daughter, and said he was an Edwards supporter. When his daughter began to wheel him to the middle of the room, the Hillary operative tapped her on the shoulder, took the wheelchair and took him to the Clinton corner. I rushed over from talking to an undecided voter and objected loudly, but his daughter was a Hillary person. The Clinton operative said, "I don't control what he does; she does." At that point I said to the man, "Nobody controls you. If you want to vote for Edwards, you have every right to go to the center of the room. Do you need help?" He looked at me plaintively, but said nothing as his daughter dragged him farther back into the corner and just shook his head.
- The Clinton operative herself had a Brooklyn accent and I overheard her mention having been from New York. When she stood to be counted in the middle of the room, I objected and asked her if she was actually from Nevada. She said yes. I talked to the chair and asked him to ask her name and find her on the list. He asked her her name and checked the list, and she was not on it. At this point the chair said, "well, I can't ask for ID." I said, "She can't participate if no one will vouch for her." At this point a Hispanic man wearing a Hillary shirt said she was his wife. While that's not impossible, it was also improbable--but I had no way to verify or object further.
- One voter who hadn't even finished registering said that she was undecided, and the Hillary operative physically escorted her to the Hillary side. I went to talk to the woman, but she was immediately surrounded by 3 Hillary supporters who would not let me in, and I had to attend to others registering at that point (our operatives were outnumbered by hers 2-1).
- Hillary supporters were doing check-in, and a Hillary sign was behind them. I forced the sign off the table, and I went to the front desk to verify that everything went according to the rules at checkin--but if nothing else, the necessity of doing so prevented me from doing other needed work.
Even so, KK and I managed to convince 6 undecided/Edwards voters (Edwards & uncommitted both lacked viability in my caucus), while their cheating, ruthless operatives only convinced two--and our caucus outperformed the field, garnering 4 delegates to her 5. It was intense--and it was war. I knew what the Clinton operatives were up to, and they knew I knew.