Caucuses, the Embarrassing Step-Child of American Democracy

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Sure it took a month to declare the actual winner of the Iowa caucuses, tallies from eight precincts were lost altogether and vote counting in Nevada dragged on for days, but you can’t really understand the depth of dysfunction in the caucus system until you behold the caricature of incompetence that is Maine.

Here’s a rough timeline of what happened:

–Last Saturday, Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster announced that Mitt Romney had won his state’s caucuses.

–Several localities, some delayed by weather others just following the schedule, hadn’t yet held their caucuses, so Ron Paul supporters, chafing at the loss, asked for some clarity.

–The Maine GOP “re-canvass[ed] counties and municipalities to recount vote totals” on Thursday, according to Politico, which sounds fancy, but really consisted of Webster sending around an e-mail to local officials asking them to e-mail him their tallies.

–On Friday, the recount turned out to be inaccurate because “there were clerical errors that did not significantly change the numbers.” What kind of clerical errors, you ask?

In addition, Webster said “about a half a dozen” towns never added to the tally on election night and that, in a couple of cases, e-mails from municipalities reporting caucus results actually “went to spam” in the state party’s email system.

Give it up for the world’s greatest democracy, folks.