Democrats’ caucus results delay raises questions, criticism

By: - February 4, 2020 1:18 am

A television monitor shows a statement from the Joe Biden campaign raising concerns about the delay in caucus results in 2020. (Iowa Capital Dispatch photo)

The Iowa Democratic Party’s delay in reporting caucus results sparked more criticism of the state’s first-in-the-nation status Monday.

While the winner of the Iowa caucus isn’t normally finalized until late in the evening of the event, it’s typical for results to be released throughout the night, giving some indication of front-runners and losers.

The Iowa Democratic Party has still failed to release any numbers by 9 a.m. Tuesday, resulting in angst on social media, criticisms from President Donald Trump’s campaign, and even some harsh words from the Democratic presidential candidates.

In an update to the public Tuesday morning, the Iowa Democratic Party released a statement saying there were inconsistencies with caucus reports Monday evening, resulting in an investigation that delayed the release of public numbers.

For the first time this year, precincts used apps to report the results from their caucuses. While the data the app collected was accurate, only partial numbers were being reported due to a coding error, according to the news release.

“As this investigation unfolded, IDP staff activated pre-planned backup measures and entered data manually. This took longer than expected,” according to the news release.

Because paper documentation of the results is required as well from precincts, the party was able to verify the data from the app with the submitted papers, according to the news release. Results from the caucuses are expected to be released on Tuesday.

Dana Remus, general counsel for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, said in a letter to the state party: “I write on behalf of the Biden for President Campaign regarding the considerable flaws in tonight’s Iowa caucus reporting system … The app that was intended to relay caucus results to the party failed; the party’s back-up telephonic reporting system likewise has failed.”

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price read a statement during a media call just after 1 a.m. He said the party was manually reviewing results from all precincts and he expected to have results later on Tuesday.  “The integrity of our process and the results have and always will be our top priority,” he said. He reiterated previous party statements that the problem was a “reporting issue, not a hack or an intrusion.”

Price said in addition to the digital tracking of the results, photos and a paper trail were being used to validate results and ensure accuracy. “We have said all along we have these backups in place for exactly this reason.”

Price ended the call without taking questions.

The presidential candidates left Iowa and headed for New Hampshire, site of a Feb. 11 primary, without knowing how they fared in the Hawkeye state. Some of the candidates made the assumption they performed well.

“So we don’t know all the results but we know that by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa you have shocked the nation,” candidate Pete Buttigieg said at Drake University. “By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

Amy Klobuchar, the first candidate to give a speech Monday evening, said her campaign did better than expected in Iowa. “We know there’s delays, but we know one thing — we’re punching above our weight,” she said 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said that while they don’t know the results, “tonight showed that Americans have a deep hunger for big, structural change to make our economy and our democracy work for everyone.”

The Republican Party of Iowa also had caucuses on Monday and the results were wrapped up early.  President Donald Trump swept all of the 38 available delegates, winning 97 percent of the vote.  GOP challengers Bill Weld and Joe Walsh each finished with just over 1 percent of the vote.

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