UPDATE: By all measures, Santorum has been found to have received the most votes...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2012, 4:54pm PT  

Even the GOP establishment --- which had long decided that Mitt Romney was their best hope to win back the White House in 2012 among those currently running --- could not overcome the intent of the voters as transparently expressed on publicly hand-counted, hand-marked paper ballots.

At the end of a January 3rd's Caucus Night in Iowa, our headline, written initially when Rick Santorum was momentarily up over Romney by just 4 votes, was "Santorum 'Wins' Iowa, Everyone Else Doesn't". An hour or so after we'd called it a night, the Iowa GOP stepped forward to declare Romney, not Santorum, had actually "won" by a slim 8 votes out of some 122,000 cast.

Finally today, the GOP has been forced to admit that Santorum was indeed the winner. Though our headline three Tuesday's ago was just slightly more accurate than the GOP's declaration for Romney that night. In truth, there was another winner in Iowa: The Voters.

It took just over two weeks for the GOP to admit it, but the party's final reported results from the hand-marked paper ballots cast on January 3rd, hand-counted in front of the public on Election Night (cast by voters who were not turned away for lack of a state-issued Photo ID) are there to tell the tail of who really won the all-important "First-in-the-Nation" Iowa Caucuses. The GOP couldn't have successfully lied about it if they'd wanted to. Oh, they could have tried. In fact, they did as Iowa's GOP chair Matthew Strawn announced just after 1p ET "Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses." And the corporate media would have gone along with them --- and, in fact, they did, ever since the GOP's attempted lie on Election Night --- but the truth would have always been there for the public to see nonetheless.

Nobody ever had to rest their faith on a single source, like a political party or a candidate or a voting machine company --- though the media was all too happy to do so before moving on to New Hampshire. There was always a transparent, overseeable, system of checks and balances --- just as our Constitution envisions for the nation's governance as a whole --- there to assure that self-governance had a fighting chance to be more than a bumper sticker slogan hauled out when convenient, ignored when not.

Because the Iowa GOP allowed the people to oversee the counting of their own election, right then and there at the caucus sites, before ballots were moved anywhere, it was next to impossible for them to successfully game the system --- just as Edward True had proven two nights after the Jan 3rd Caucuses.

And speaking of Edward True, the Republican Party of Iowa owes this man, this patriot, this Ron Paul supporter a huge apology...

After True stepped forward to point out that the Iowa GOP had a reporting error (not a counting error, but a reporting error) on the tally list they had by then posted on their website, a cowardly, unnamed party spokeswoman slimed him publicly in the media.

"True is not a precinct captain and he's not a county chairperson so he has no business talking about election results," the unnamed spokeswoman reportedly told Des Moines' KCCI NewsChannel 8.

Chairman Strawn soon went on record to further slime Mr. True, suggesting his photographic evidence --- which was soon confirmed as accurate by the GOP's Appanoose County Chair and others who were actually there to oversee the public counting at the caucus that night --- amounted to little more than "rumor" and "innuendo".

In truth, the only "rumor" and "innuendo" came from Strawn and the Iowa GOP establishment themselves when, in the early morning hours of January 4th, he proudly declared Romney as the "winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses."

Have we mentioned that the Iowa GOP owes Mr. True a huge apology?

The party's final "certified" totals put Rick Santorum atop the pack by 34 votes, though they say they were unable to certify results from 8 of the 1,774 precincts which held caucuses that night. With the contemporaneously reported --- if not party "certified" --- results from those 8 precincts included with the "certified" numbers, Santorum still wins the contest.

Either way you slice it --- barring any other witnesses to the actual counting on caucus night coming forward to prove otherwise, something they'd not be able to do were it not for the transparent public counting of hand-marked paper ballots --- Santorum won Iowa.

Because we know that. Because there is no way for the GOP to deny that, their initial denial this morning --- reporting it not as a win but as a "split decision" --- didn't hold for long.

Within an hour or so after that "split decision" announcement, and after Romney tried to call it a "virtual tie", the party was was forced to concede that Santorum won, and shortly thereafter even Romney called the former Pennsylvania Senator to congratulate him and "concede victory".

No matter what the party might have wanted, the voters actually won here, by having their voice heard, even in the closest of close races, even where the party which ran the election might have liked a different outcome --- and even tried, unsuccessfully, to fudge one.

And, one last point to mention. As impossibly close as the results ultimately were, there has not been a single peep, to our knowledge, of anyone claiming "voter fraud" anywhere in the Hawkeye State. That, even as the Iowa GOP ignored their own insistence that the only way to avoid "voter fraud" in elections elsewhere (and even in Iowa) is to require polling place Photo ID restrictions for all voters before they are allowed to vote.

When Iowa Republicans had the chance to set any rules they wanted for their own election --- in Iowa, the GOP sets the caucus rules, not the state --- they allowed all voters to vote without restriction, even those voters who chose to both register and vote on the very same day.

That's what democracy looks like, even despite the Iowa Republican Party's attempts to undermine their own transparent model used in the Iowa GOP Caucuses, as based on Democracy's Gold Standard.

Congratulations Mr. Santorum. But, more so, congratulations Republican voters of Iowa. Hope you'll fight in the future to ensure all Americans get to vote and count as transparently as you did on January 3rd, 2012.

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UPDATE 1/21/12: Finding the need to clarify some confusion out there --- and underscoring again what The BRAD BLOG has been reporting for some time --- Iowa GOP officials issued a one sentence statement late last night, 18-minutes before midnight, on the eve of today's South Carolina GOP Primary, declaring Rick Santorum of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses:

In order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results released January 18 by the Republican Party of Iowa, Chairman Matthew Strawn and the State Central Committee declared Senator Rick Santorum the winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucus.

We've seen a number of misreports out there suggesting that the votes from 8 precincts were lost. That is untrue. What was missing at the time of the GOP's previous announcement were the hard copy "Form E" documents from eight precincts which are the official certification of the election night results --- results which had already been given to the GOP on election night.

Without those 8 precincts included, Santorum was found to have won the race by 34 votes. With the Election Night totals included in the results, Santorum is found to have won by 69 votes, as AP notes today:

Unofficial election night results from the eight missing precincts gave Santorum 81 votes and Romney 46. If those results had been certified to state party officials by Wednesday’s deadline, Santorum’s lead in the final tally would have been 69 votes.

Des Moines Register has more on those precincts and what may have happened to the Form Es. But the point is, the Election Night results are now certified and published and if there are any concerns about any of them, citizens who were there that night, who were allowed, with their own eyes, to see the votes being tallied --- many of whom took photos of the actual tally sheets at the caucus site --- may come forward to point out any discrepancies. So far, to our knowledge, none have done so.

If they do, that's great. Nobody will have to take any single source's word for anything, as thousands of eyeballs oversaw the entire process. That is a system that works and --- short of the state GOP's dumb (paranoia based) secretive "certification" process over the past two weeks --- exactly what the entire nation needs in order to restore confidence in its election tabulation system.

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