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Time to Get Rid of Caucuses, Let Other States Go Early, Or Both Time to Get Rid of Caucuses, Let Other States Go Early, Or Both

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Time to Get Rid of Caucuses, Let Other States Go Early, Or Both

A caucus participant hands an extra ballot back to a caucus chairman during a Republican caucus meeting, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Las Vegas.((AP Photo/Julie Jacobson))

February 5, 2012

As I write this, it's 24 hours after the TV networks called the Nevada caucuses for Mitt Romney, and more than 13 percent of the vote is still uncounted. When will we know whether Romney topped 50 percent, whether Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul came in second, how the state's 28 delegates will be doled out? Maybe when a flock of carrier pigeons arrives at state party headquarters? This week sometime would be good.

We won't even get into the tiny turnout in Nevada, which was moved up on the nomination calendar four years ago so the West would have an early say in the presidential process. Or the weirdness of an evening caucus that you couldn't get into unless you signed an affidavit about your religion. Or the "trouble box." Seriously.

This can't be what Republican elders envisioned. Nor were they likely expecting the Iowa GOP to announce more than two weeks after its Jan. 3 kickoff caucuses that Romney, declared the winner on caucus night, actually lost to Rick Santorum. Oh, and votes from eight precincts were missing, so who knows who really won.

"The Super Bowl is over but the #NVCaucus isn't," tweeted Craig Robinson, whose Twitter handle is @IowaGOPer, 24 hours after the race was called.

Maybe the dysfunction in Nevada is making him and other Iowans feel better (schadenfreude, anyone?), but Iowa has nothing to brag about. There are two more caucus contests coming up Tuesday in Colorado and Minnesota. If they manage to pull off smooth, high-turnout elections, maybe they should be first in the West and Midwest on the 2016 calendar. Or how about both parties agree to let Arizona go first? It's in the West, it holds a primary, and it may be evolving into a general-election swing state. That's a win-win-win.

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