Bernie Sanders has been awarded an additional delegate after the Colorado Democratic Party admitted that they miscounted the results in ten percent of precincts. If Sanders gets the support of one of the state’s two uncommitted superdelegates, he will win a majority of delegates in Colorado.
The Denver Post reported on a small mistake with potentially large consequences:
The mistake is a minor shift with major implications. The new projection now shows the Vermont senator winning 39 delegates in Colorado, compared to 27 for Clinton.
Even if Clinton wins all 12 superdelegates in the state, Sanders can finish no worse than a split decision. The new count contrasts with prior projections from The Post, Bloomberg Politics and The Associated Press that indicated Clinton would probably win the majority of the 78 delegates in Colorado because of her support from party leaders with superdelegate status.
If Sanders lands one Colorado superdelegate — two are still undecided and others are facing significant pressure — he could win the state’s delegation.
The problem here wasn’t the mistake, but the way that it was handled. The state Democratic Party misreported the results to the public and kept their mistake quiet until it was uncovered by The Denver Post. The state party reported the error to the Clinton campaign but never told the Sanders campaign.
The fiasco in Colorado highlights that caucuses are not official elections, and by design, they are vulnerable to mistakes and corruption. There are growing calls in Colorado for the state to a primary system. Primaries are more transparent, and most importantly are not held by state parties.
Caucuses are also fundamentally undemocratic. The caucus system imposes artificial barriers to participation that limit turnout to the most dedicated supporters of each candidate. Again, since caucuses aren’t official elections the process is controlled by each state party and can be influenced by the agendas and interests of state party leaders.
The process of selecting a presidential nominee is too important to be left up to caucuses that are run by the state parties. Bernie Sanders would have never gotten the extra delegate and a chance to win the Colorado delegation without the efforts of The Denver Post.
Sanders has benefitted more than any other candidate from the caucus system in 2016, but what happened to him in Colorado demonstrates why the caucuses have got to go.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association