Today on The BradCast, among a lot of other stuff, we have exclusive comment from the Wyoming state Democratic Party Executive Director in response to concerns from Bernie Sanders supporters about the reportedly large number of "surrogate" ballots cast for Hillary Clinton.
First up, after some 400 arrests at the nation's Capitol on Monday in response to peaceful "Democracy Spring" demonstrations to get money out of politics and for other electoral reforms, some 85 senior citizens were arrested on Tuesday during the second day of a scheduled week-long series of protests in Washington D.C.
Then, with Donald Trump declaring the nomination process is being "rigged" by his own Republican Party, reports of death threats and other intimidation tactics from Trump supporters begin to emerge.
Next, speaking of charges of "rigging" the nomination process, Bernie Sanders supporters over the past weekend were incensed after seeing a huge turnout for their candidate at the Wyoming caucuses, only to see their delegate count somewhat undercut by "surrogate" ballots cast by Hillary Clinton supporters. The two candidates ended up splitting the state's 14 pledged delegates 7 to 7, but claims of Clinton campaign "ballot box stuffing" with those surrogate forms were only exacerbated by a campaign aide who reportedly told CNN that their "secret sauce" was Wyoming's "onerous vote-by-mail rules that required anyone voting by mail to have voted as a Democrat in the 2014 midterms."
Surrogate (or vote-by-mail/absentee ballot) forms may only be cast by registered Democrats who say they are unable to attend the party's caucuses for one of several specific reasons, as listed on the surrogate form. There is nothing on the affidavit or on the party's website regarding that "onerous" rule about having voted in the 2014 midterms. So, after several days of phone and email tag, seeking an explanation from Aimee Van Cleave, the WY Dems' Executive Director, I was finally able to speak with her just before air today.
Her full explanation is on today's program, but, in short, she says CNN's explanation of that "rule" from the Clinton aide, was "a little bit correct, but mostly incorrect." Van Cleave tells me that the confusion comes from the state's statutory practice of purging voters from the rolls if they did not vote in the 2014 general election and then failed to respond to a "purge notice" sent by the state in 2015. Normally, Van Cleave explains, that's not a problem for voters, since the state has same-day registration on Election Day. That means anyone who has been purged can simply re-register and vote on the same day. But, for the caucuses, which the parties run, not the state --- and, as WY only allows County Clerks or their officials to register voters --- there is no voter registration at party caucuses. That means voters had to be registered as Democratic voters two weeks before the April 9th caucus in order to participate either in person or via a surrogate ballot.
To that end, she says, while the Clinton team was aggressive in their surrogate vote turnout effort, so was the Sanders camp. "If you look at the number of surrogate ballots received, the numbers between Clinton and remarkable close," Van Cleave says. According to her current estimates, Clinton received "just over 1,500" such votes, while Sanders received "just shy of 1,300". So, she says, the disparity between them was not as large as his supporters had claimed them to be over the weekend and in the days since the caucuses.
The party's Executive Director also tells me that, while they've always been a caucus state, "this is our first year testing out the surrogate vote system. It's a new thing for us and we have actually had wonderful positive feedback from people who would not otherwise have had their voices heard." She added: "Wyoming has a rather old population, so we have a lot of people who, for them, getting out for a caucus is not something that is easy to do."
I've got much more specific comment from Van Cleave during today's program in response to a number of related concerns from Sanders supporters.
Finally, we take a bunch of listener calls related to the above, and from those explaining why they think the "Bernie or Bust" idea is a good one, and then Desi Doyen joins for the latest Green News Report at the end of a very busy BradCast!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)