Advice from a Sanders campaign veteran:

How to Combat Caucus Crap in 2020

Click on the image for Laurie Dobson’s podcast on the DNC attacks on Sanders and how he needs to respond (hint: more aggressively than he has so far!)


 As a seasoned politician/political Democratic candidate, since 2002, I have seen my share of efforts by the Democratic Party to subvert my campaigns. Most recently, when I ran as a 2016 ‘Bernie Democrat’ candidate for state rep in Maine, I saw up close that my campaign, and the Sanders campaign too, were defrauded of our legitimate votes. I am writing this to draw attention to the different methods that I saw being used by party officials to destroy the Sander’s presidential campaign.

I hope that this time, the level of criminal fraud that happened in 2016 has been thoroughly recognized and taken into account. Going forward, we must improve our response to these threats to the electoral system.

This screen shot of the top of an article on the Boston Herald website says it all. The dirty tricks are coming for Sanders already.


Those new to the political arena must be alert and must anticipate a very tough battle this season; preparation is crucial. You have to know that bad-faith actions happen frequently at both primaries and caucuses. This happens across the board, including: canvassing, poll watching, phone banking, dropping cards, placing signs, doing get-out-the-vote efforts, electing those who run caucuses, pressuring those in any position of authority, and practices inside and outside the voting locations.

I believe that the playbook for these kinds of malicious tactics come straight from the DNC, and funneled out to state parties too, becoming a kind of script on how to subvert results. At the local and state level, the repeated treacheries against Sanders were so egregious, so blatant and reprehensible, they represented a new moral low for election procedure.

At every level, I found illegal practices being used. Prevention is best, but you must actively oppose and publicly denounce vote suppression tactics as they occur. Ballot access should be protected and conducted in a respectable way. We are the ones who must uphold these practices, which is another reason why Sander’s winning is so important.

At the 2016 Maine Democratic Party State Convention, I spoke against the corruptive influence of superdelegates: This will be a critical issue to resolve.

Those who have the most to lose economically are treated differently in their communities and this extends to the way leaders are selected. Some of the ways can be effectively countered; you can prevail against them at your specific election sites.

Many bad faith practices in 2016 were exactly described in emails (Pied Piper) exposed by Wikileaks. Sanders staff have responded with corrective measures now, in 2020, but they may not be able to do enough to catch the many ways they will be defrauded.

Bad faith actions will happen right from the start, including when people are selected and how they are treated by their co-members of the Democratic Party during the process. What this means is that it boils down to me and you, individually, at times, being picked off and intimidated by those holding ‘power’. You must reject this!

When I ran as a Bernie candidate in 2016, I was already aware firsthand of the many ways that the local party wanted their status quo candidate Hillary Clinton to win. I knew how determined they would be to deny Sanders delegates. At the local caucus so many efforts were used that I recorded them on video.

This was done at the time I was a caucus chair for Bernie Sanders, and there was an attempt to stop me from recording this voter disenfranchisement by someone on the lookout for those taking pictures. She is now a superdelegate in Maine, and she was trying very hard to show her loyalties to the elites in the Party!

It was lonely, and, at times, thankless, but I maintained these efforts, which stand as a record to what occurred. This is my best piece of advice: record everything and bring battery chargers so you do not run out of juice. Don’t let these people tell you to stop recording the things you see!

I had to oppose efforts to undermine Sander’s vote by making changes on the blackboard, with obvious errors of math. There were deliberate attempts to merge lines of the voters from one camp to another, and efforts to select or deselect people to be caucus members.

These misdeeds were also done at the state level with efforts to try to control who got into the state convention, and to prevent them from being selected to go to the National Convention. When the votes were tallied by one person who walked onto the convention floor, there was no-one there to question the procedure. He had every opportunity to change the list of elected delegates, since the results were known only to that one person: the head of the state party.

There was one instance where all the names of registered voters from A to G were left back at the town office and were not available at the caucus. People waited only to be handed slips of paper and were told their votes would be counted at a later date.

The reason I warn of these things, is because of the blasé attitude shown by Pete Buttigieg on CNN the next day after the disastrous Iowa Caucus (and also CBS) to crow about his “victory.” He framed his results, which were based upon no actual vote counts, as his “victory” in every text or tweet. He seemed to have every confidence that nothing could oppose him, as though the fix was in, the narrative was set, and it was up to those in the progressive camp to stop their theft of the results. It is up to us, since the media have demonstrated in debates and coverage, that they are collectively attempting to prevent Sanders’ success.

Surprisingly the Sanders campaign had an app of their own that they used during the caucus, and they later showed their own results. Bernie will not be rolled over as he was last time either with his counts, or with loaded dice with pre-loaded results.

We will see this over and over during the next months of primaries and it is going to get nasty. The reason I’m spelling it out now is so you can beware. Know that these attempts will happen, and that you must be prepared to care about your future and fight for it. I believe that these efforts matter and you will prevail; we will prevail together, and I urge you not to give up! Go in your head held high, and hang in there!

PS: If you are running as a Candidate for Bernie, see my blog at for my experience with the Party’s efforts to prevent me from being the Party State Rep Candidate


 Laurie Dobson, who contributed this article to ThisCantBeHappening!, says:  I am a peace-and-justice activist who ran in Connecticut for Dem State Rep in ’02, as an Indie for US Senate in Maine in ’08, and as a Bernie candidate for State Rep in Maine in 2016. I worked hard for the 2016 Bernie primary campaign but, unhappy with his decision after Hillary’s nomination to quit his campaign and endorse her, I attended his pro-Hillary rally Nov. 1st, 2016, where I was arrested for waving a green scarf for Jill Stein. I am supporting Bernie again now.