Chaos Reigns On Iowa Caucus Night

Tuesday, February 4th 2020, 3:23 am
By: CBS News

As Monday turned into Tuesday, there was no victor in Iowa. There weren't even any official results. 

As the campaigns came to learn, the Iowa Democratic Party found "inconsistencies" in reporting the three sets of results it promised to deliver. The information was to come from precinct captains, who were to report it through a newly developed app. But they ran into trouble as caucuses finished.

"In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report," the Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement. "The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results." 

Early Tuesday, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said results will be provided "later today," although he did not specify what time. Price said he wanted to emphasize this is a "reporting issue, not a hack" and "this is why we have a paper trail." 

Earlier, a backup option for precinct captains to report caucus results — a hotline — ran into its own issues.

When CBS News attempted to call the Iowa Democratic Party Caucus Hotline, a recorded message said, "Thank you for calling the Iowa Democratic Party's Caucus Hotline. All of our operators are currently busy. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. We look forward to talking to you soon," before playing hold music.
One precinct captain who was trying to report his results was on hold for an hour and had apparently just gotten through to the IDP — with CNN listening as he was about to report his results — when the party hung up on him on live television.
This wasn't an isolated incident. 
"I was on hold for 40 minutes at my precinct. I gave up and hung up and returned to our HQ," said Black Hawk County Vice Chair Nate Guber.
As word of the confusion and chaos spread, the Iowa Democratic Party held a conference call with the presidential campaigns in an effort to explain the issues with the reporting system. But at least one campaign has said it wants more answers.

Dana Remus, general counsel for former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, wrote in a letter to the leaders of the state party that the campaigns "deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond before any official results are released." 

"The app that was intended to relay caucus results to the party failed; the party's back-up telephonic reporting system likewise has failed," Remus wrote to the chair and executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party "Now, we understand that caucus chairs are attempting to — and, in many cases, failing to — report results telephonically to the party. These acute failures are occurring statewide."

After midnight, the IDP website where the results were supposed to be posted still had zeroes next to each candidate's name. As far as the candidates were concerned, it meant they could all declare victory, which they did in a spate of overlapping speeches late Monday night. 

And while the Iowa Democratic Party said it is working to validate the results using photographs and a paper trail, candidates are already shifting their focus to the next contest: the New Hampshire primary on February 11.

"Somehow, someway, I'm getting on a plane tonight to New Hampshire," Senator Amy Klobuchar told a crowd of supporters and volunteers. "And we are bringing this ticket to New Hampshire." 

Republicans wasted no time seizing on the chaos.

"Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history. It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system? Tonight President Trump posted a record performance in the well-run GOP Iowa caucuses with record turnout for an incumbent," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. 

GOP Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a staunch defender of Mr. Trump, used the confusion to take aim at Democrats' policy positions.

"Folks—this is the party that wants to run your healthcare, control your employment, decide what kind of car you can drive, and more," he tweeted.

At this point, no one in the Democratic Party or the Trump administration has said they see any evidence that the results were hacked.

Major Garrett, Steve Dorsey and Adam Brewster contributed to this report.

First published on February 4, 2020 / 12:56 AM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson



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