Freeport grad takes caucus results into his own hands

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FREEPORT — Alec Salisbury wasn’t seeing reports from the March 26 Hawaii Democratic caucuses, so he compiled the results himself – and ended up being the first to declare the winner.

The Ithaca College junior, who graduated from Freeport High School in 2013, said it was late Saturday night and he was tired of waiting for the results. He said precincts and media outlets weren’t saying anything.

“I was waiting around for caucus results and I thought it’d be fun and helpful,” Salisbury, 20, said.

Salisbury, along with a few people he found online, created a Google spreadsheet to track the returns. Salisbury was the first person to project presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win in Hawaii. He also gathered results from Washington and Alaska, where Sanders also won.

Salisbury’s unofficial results were accurate: they showed Sanders with 69.6 percent of the vote and opponent Hillary Clinton with 30.3 percent. The Associated Press’ official results later showed Sanders with 70.6 percent and Clinton with 29.3 percent.

When Salisbury had 60 percent of the results from Hawaii, he posted the news on Twitter.

“That kind of took off and spread pretty quickly,” he said.

At one point in the night, Salisbury said, there were between 20,000 and 40,000 people viewing the spreadsheet. He said he didn’t think what he was doing would get so much attention.

“I expected some play on Reddit, but I didn’t expect to be on USA Today,” Salisbury said.

To find results, Salisbury said he mostly used social media and Reddit, an online bulletin board where members post about news and entertainment. He said it’s unclear why Hawaii wasn’t reporting results as they came in, but the state waited until all the results were in before declaring a winner.

Salisbury said people should be able to find results as they trickle in. He said he and the others who helped with the spreadsheet will also be gathering results for the April 9 caucuses in Wyoming.

A cinema and photography major, Salisbury is a Sanders supporter, but has no experience working with politics. He said it’s interesting following the election, and he just wanted to help people find results.

“It’s just a hobby, following politics,” he said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Alec Salisbury

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.