After Hillary Clinton was declared the Democratic victor on Monday, Feb. 1, the results of the Iowa caucuses were the center of much debate. Particularly, the fact that several ties that occurred between Democrats Clinton and Bernie Sanders were settled by coin flip confused and angered many.
Of the seven coin flips on record via the Microsoft reporting application, Sanders won five flips against Clinton and one against Martin O’Malley. The six infamous coin flips Clinton won were not digitally recorded and are simply anecdotal. All of these flips were used to determine county delegates being sent to the district and then state convention, not the state delegates being sent to the national convention. This process is not unique to Iowa; 34 other states settle ties in the same way.
Should any election results be determined by coin flip or any other “games of chance?” If we are to elect a president who is truly representative of the population’s political views, there must be a better way to settle a tie.
The Iowa Democratic Party’s way of running the caucuses lends itself to ties and is therefore inherently flawed. In caucus meetings, voters are asked to split into groups according to candidate support. These meetings involve discussion and process of elimination, and supporters of candidates with less than 15 percent support are asked to join a more popular candidate’s group. This continues until all candidates have at least 15 percent support, and delegates are allotted according to percentage. This process may barely make sense with a large candidate pool, but with only two major Democratic candidates, a tie seems inevitable.
Conversely, the Iowa Republican Party uses a system where one person equals one vote. This representative procedure allows for a more accurate voter picture.
Both parties send these county results to the district convention and then the state convention where delegates are chosen for the national convention.
The Democratic system is confusing and how these steps are implemented is not completely transparent. The way in which Democratic percentages are tabulated is unclear. The process of coin flipping, unique to the Democratic party, allows for less voter say in the matter.
While an obvious and immediate change is not apparent, we must reckon with the system we are given. These ties can be avoided if enough young voters turn out to polling places.
In the Iowa caucuses, surveys revealed that 18 percent of democratic caucus goers were aged 17-29 years. This is a decrease from previous election cycles. Of those 18 percent who participated in the caucuses, 84 percent voted for Sanders. This being said, if more young voters had voiced their opinions in the caucuses, there most likely would have been a very different result. A clear majority would have supported Sanders and no tie-breakers would have been necessary.
These primaries are only the first step in a long election process, but the decisions made affect the presidential election as a whole. Wisconsin’s primary election is Tuesday, April 5. If you want to be heard and have a say in who will be our next president, go vote!