By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2012, 6:05am PT  

Over the past week or so, while the rest of the media has been covering the "horse race" non-stop, The BRAD BLOG has, as is our wont, been keeping a close eye, as usual, on the otherwise ignored "track conditions" which can make as much of a difference in the results as anything else.

We've been reporting on a number of key points about the way the voting and counting will be carried out in tonight's Iowa Caucuses (beginning at 7p CT), all of which are worthy of quick summary here today, as all of the rules for the Republican Caucuses in the Hawekeye State --- who can vote and how those votes will be counted --- are not set by the state, but by the Republican Party itself.

The Iowa GOP has, therefore, determined that...

If it seems that all of the items mentioned above are ones that Republicans --- even Republicans in the Iowa statehouse and the Iowa Secretary of State's office within the past year --- have fought virulently against allowing, for years, for elections in which Democrats will be participating, you would be correct. Nonetheless, when the GOP is able to set any rules they like for their own elections --- including tonight's all-important "First-in-the-Nation" Iowa caucuses --- those are the rules that they've selected. Go figure.

So with that very good, if breathtakingly hypocritical, news out of the way, here are five quick points, from Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, on how folks on the ground tonight can fight to try and ensure and/or oversee the accuracy of caucus results...

Harris' article yesterday offers specifics on the process, before summing up with these five clear points of advice for Election Integrity advocates --- including the important note about using your cell phone cameras (or other similar devices) to capture photographic evidence of the results at each caucus site before those results are phoned in to the GOP's tabulation headquarters at its undisclosed location:

1) Check that the number of people who vote does not exceed the number of people who attend the caucus;

2) Check that the number of votes counted does not exceed the number of people who voted;

3) Use your cell phone to capture a photo or video of the local caucus result, as evidence. It doesn't matter what you say happened; only a photo or video matters. Compare this with the state party's report of your local caucus report to make sure it's the same.

4) Make sure the state party promptly provides the result of each local caucus together with the total.

5) Check that the sum of all the local caucuses adds up to the total reported by the state party.

Harris adds that, "In Iowa, a little cooperation from the state committee, a reasonable amount of vigilance from the caucus attendees and the campaigns, and you've got a transparent process. Not so in New Hampshire, at least, as of this writing. Stay tuned."

But the nightmare that is New Hampshire's "First-in-the-Nation Primary" comes soon enough (January 10). For tonight, at least, it's all about Iowa...

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