The strange situation with Washington state's Republican Caucus over the weekend keeps deteriorating by the hour, the more we learn about it. It all underscores, of course, why full transparency is useful when it comes to elections.
And yes, the process overseen by the state's GOP chair Luke Esser "the Suppressor" --- where Huckabee led McCain for the bulk of the day as returns were coming in, only to stop the counting at 87% once McCain took a 242 vote lead --- was anything but transparent.
Seattle's NBC affiliate KING 5 is now questioning the reported vote totals out of Snohomish County:
Throughout the vote reporting process, State Party Chairman Luke Esser has said the party is reporting the presidential preferences of the delegates who were elected at the caucuses. But today we learned that Snohomish County, the third-largest county in the state, reported the preferences of all caucus attendees instead of the elected delegates.
One Snohomish County caucus chairman told KING 5 that the delegate preferences are "dramatically different" than the attendee counts.
The Snohomish County Republican Party does not have the delegate preferences from many of its caucuses and is working to obtain them.
This is all made possible, as the WA state bloggers at HorsesAss (who have been doing some terrific work on all of this) helpfully report, due to the bizarre way in which WA Republicans determine delegate proportionment from the caucus voters.
Unlike the state's Democratic Caucuses, where delegates are essentially selected by a mathematical formula to mirror the way caucus goers voted, on the GOP side, participants at each precinct may determine how to proportion delegates any way they wish. For example, even if, say, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul were to receive the most votes at a precinct, the organizers could still choose to give the most delegates to John McCain.
As the KING 5 report above points out, there is now a question of consistency with the numbers that state party chair Esser the Suppressor was reporting.
Adding still more worries for the Huckabee camp, or even the Paul camp who currently follow Huck with a close third place, David Goldstein at HorsesAss also points out that Esser has long served as a reliable hatchet man, for years, to WA State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who helped him get the job, and who just happens to be the state campaign chairman for, you guessed it, John McCain...