Iowa Democratic Party Says ‘Coding Issue’ Delayed Results: Live Updates


The Iowa Democratic Party will begin to release results from Monday’s caucuses at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, its chairman Troy Price told the Democratic campaigns in a conference call.

Mr. Price told the campaigns “the majority” of results would be made public later Tuesday but dodged questions from the campaigns about when final totals would become available.

“As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound,” Mr. Price said. “While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed.”

It was a surreal opening act for the 2020 campaign that included unexplained “inconsistencies” in results that were not released to the public, heated conference calls with campaigns that were hung up on by the state party, firm denials of any kind of hacking and a presidential primary left in a strange state of almost suspended animation.

“A systemwide disaster,” said Derek Eadon, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairman.

Amid the chaos and confusion, there were conflicting candidate speeches declaring various degrees of victory, as Mr. Sanders’s campaign released its own set of favorable partial results, and multiple campaigns hoped that the mess would not lessen the eventual impact of what they said appeared to be a disappointing first test for Mr. Biden.

As Democrats struggled to count the votes in the opening presidential nominating contest, the one person clearly rejoicing was the man they hope to evict from the White House.

“The Democrat Caucus is an unmitigated disaster,” President Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning as the Iowa results remained unknown. “Nothing works, just like they ran the Country. Remember the 5 Billion Dollar Obamacare Website, that should have cost 2% of that. The only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is ‘Trump.’”

But Mr. Trump, who won the Republican caucuses in Iowa handily, rejected suggestions that the breakdown in counting should cause the state to lose its status as the first stop in the presidential nomination process.

“It is not the fault of Iowa, it is the Do Nothing Democrats fault,” he wrote. “As long as I am President, Iowa will stay where it is. Important tradition!”

Read more here.

The app that the Iowa Democratic Party commissioned to tabulate and report results from the caucuses was not properly tested at a statewide scale, said people who were briefed on the app by the state party.

The party decided to use the app only after another proposal for reporting votes — which entailed having caucus participants call in their votes over the phone — was abandoned, on the advice of Democratic National Committee officials, according to David Jefferson, a board member of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election integrity organization.

The app was built by Shadow Inc., a for-profit technology company that is also used by the Nevada Democratic Party, the next state to hold a caucus, as well as by multiple presidential campaigns.

The secrecy around the app this year came from the Iowa Democratic Party, which asked that even its name be withheld from the public. According to a person familiar with the app, its creators had repeatedly questioned the need to keep it secret, especially from the Iowa precincts where it would be used.

That person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had agreed not to discuss details of the app, said that there were concerns that the app would malfunction in areas with poor connectivity, or because of high bandwidth use, such as when many people tried to use it at the same time.

Read more here.

They are a mix of campaign veterans and political rookies, deeply committed to a complex Democratic process that defies most accepted tenets of representative elections.

They number more than 1,600, and they are the volunteers — precinct leaders, and the people they deputize — whom the Iowa Democratic Party relies on to ensure that its time-honored process runs smoothly, and that the results are reported accurately.

And on Monday night, all those years of experience came up against a smartphone app that the volunteers either didn’t use or couldn’t log in to, and a help line that left them on hold for hours.

According to more than a dozen Iowa Democratic Party officials, county chairmen and volunteers involved in running precincts, many precinct leaders ignored the party’s request that they download the app before caucus night or found the process of installing it too cumbersome.

Some did try to make it work. Sarah Banks, a 39-year-old career adviser at Grinnell College, served as a caucus secretary, deputized by her precinct leader to record and submit results. She said she logged in to test the state party’s app Monday afternoon with no problem.

But when it came time to report the actual tallies on Monday night, her app failed. She spent the next four hours trying to phone in results.

“We had three of us call and we were all on hold,” Ms. Banks said. “When I was on hold for an hour, the phone disconnected.”

Sarah Truitt, co-chair of the Clarke County Democrats, said she was told to use the email address mathworksheet@iowademocrats.org to report results.

John Grennan, 44, the Democratic chairman in Poweshiek County in central Iowa, said seven of the 10 people running precincts in thee county never downloaded the state party’s app to begin with, choosing instead to phone in results as they always had. Others did try, but were unable to properly enter a security code to download and access the app, let alone submit results.

NASHUA, N.H. — Fresh off an overnight flight from Des Moines, Mr. Buttigieg met the mayor of Nashua, Jim Donchess, for a coffee at the Riverwalk Café downtown.

“You did a great job last night on your speech,” Mr. Donchess said, as he greeted Mr. Buttigieg on a sidewalk outside of the coffee shop.

“Thanks,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “Felt good.”

As the two men walked down the sidewalk, Mr. Buttigieg told the Nashua mayor that it was “frustrating” to not have good results, but said “you can’t deny” that he had had a strong night.

Mr. Donchess, a four-term mayor, announced his endorsement of Mr. Buttigieg this morning, though said he had been considering it for some time and was not influenced by the reports of a strong finish in Iowa.

As the two men ordered beverages — a black coffee for Mr. Buttigieg, and an oolong tea for Mr. Donchess — Mr. Buttigieg again spoke of his desires to get the “final numbers” but stated faith in the overall process.

“The good thing is there’s a paper trail, and it’s a caucus, so it’s not even secret ballots, so its all verifiable,” Mr. Buttigieg said to the Nashua mayor.

Mr. Buttigieg lingered in the coffee shop for about 10 minutes, sitting down with three voters to talk about local issues. He ignored questions from reporters about whether his speech last night in Iowa, seemingly declaring victory absent any official results, was premature.

At his first town hall of the morning, in Manchester, Mr. Buttigieg did not directly address the results of the Iowa caucuses or his speech declaring victory, choosing instead to focus on the opportunity to do well in the Granite State.

He did, however, open his stump speech with an acknowledgment of the long night he had just endured.

“I’m so glad to be with you this morning,” he said, pausing. “I think it’s morning. We took a little nap somewhere right in between sundown and sun up and now we are excited to be with you.”

Voters here — both those who said they were undecided and those who said they would vote for Mr. Buttigieg — offered a collective shrug at the former mayor’s decision to declare victory in the absence of any official results.

Asked if it was appropriate for Mr. Buttigieg to have suggested he had won, Ben Gayman, an undecided voter from Manchester, did not hesitate.

“Of course,” he said. “They all did.”

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ms. Warren landed in Manchester shortly after 4 a.m., surrounded by senior aides and top surrogates. In brief remarks to supporters, Ms. Warren said she felt good about her campaign’s position — even as the official results remained unclear.

“So when I left Iowa I said it is too close to call and it still is — but I feel good,” she said. “We are in 31 states and have thousands of people on the ground.”

Ms. Warren thanked her team in Iowa and said her organizers there would now disperse to other states.

The campaigns of Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg released portions of their own caucus-night intelligence, both claiming that they were on track to emerge triumphant. And Ms. Warren’s advisers forecast a close finish among her, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg while chastising her opponents for releasing partial information.

“Any campaign saying they won or putting out incomplete numbers is contributing to the chaos and misinformation,” said Joe Rospars, a top adviser to Ms. Warren, alluding to Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg.

As other candidates were anxiously waiting for the news that did not come, Michael R. Bloomberg spent much of last night on a plane from Southern California to Detroit.

Before the chaos, he had already downplayed the impact of Iowa. And on Tuesday, he seemed to continue the above-the-Democratic-fray approach he is taking with his unusual campaign, which is skipping the first four early voting states and spending lavishly on television commercials elsewhere.

His campaign released a new advertisement scheduled to be aired nationally Tuesday night, when Mr. Trump is set to deliver his State of the Union address. The spot focuses on criticism of Mr. Trump, warning of a nation “divided by an angry, out-of-control president” and a White House “beset by lies, chaos and corruption.”

The advertisement tries to portray Mr. Bloomberg as the candidate who is best equipped to beat Mr. Trump in November, an argument Mr. Bloomberg made at an event Monday in Compton, Calif.

“It’s much more efficient to go to the big states, to go to the swing states,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview. “The others chose to compete in the first four. And nobody makes them do it, they wanted to do it. I think part of it is because the conventional wisdom is ‘oh you can’t possibly win without them.’ Those are old rules.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s spending — more than $200 million of his own fortune so far — is a big bet on whether he can rewrite those rules.

A lot of reasons contributed to Monday night’s events, chiefly a breakdown of the process by which caucus leaders were supposed to report results to the Iowa Democratic Party.

But one factor was baked into that process from almost the moment the caucuses ended four years ago.

Historically, the party had focused on highlighting only one caucus result: the number of delegates each candidate had earned for the state convention. The winner of the Iowa caucuses was the person who earned the most state delegates, which translate into national delegates, which determine the nomination. This year, however, the state party chose to release four results from the caucuses.

That’s because in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged out Mr. Sanders in the state delegate count by a quarter of a percentage point, earning roughly 700 to Mr. Sanders’s 697. That meant 23 national delegates for Mrs. Clinton and 21 for Mr. Sanders — an inconsequential difference between the two rivals.

Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign fought for an audit in Iowa — comparing the reported results with the papers on which caucus leaders had recorded voters’ preferences — and accused the state Democratic Party of a lack of transparency.

Largely because of Mr. Sanders’s objections, the party decided to release additional numbers in 2020 that it had always logged but never made public: the number of supporters each candidate had in the first round of voting and the number he or she had in the second round, after nonviable candidates were eliminated and caucusgoers realigned.

The idea was that all this data would provide a fuller picture of each candidate’s strength. But it also made reporting the results more complicated. Read more here.

In a joint statement released Tuesday morning, Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa and the state’s governor, Kim Reynolds, defended the Iowa caucuses, saying they were confident the results would ultimately be tallied.

“Iowa’s unique role encourages a grass roots nominating process that empowers everyday Americans, not Washington insiders or powerful billionaires,” they said. “The face-to-face retail politics nature of Iowa’s caucus system also encourages dialogue between candidates and voters that makes our presidential candidates accountable for the positions they take and the records they hold.”

They also defended the state’s position at the start of the nominating calendar.

“Iowa’s large population of independent voters and its practice of careful deliberation contributes greatly to the national presidential primary and makes it the ideal state to kick off the nominating process,” they said. “Iowans and all Americans should know we have complete confidence that every last vote will be counted and every last voice will be heard.”

Maggie Astor, Peter Baker, Alexander Burns, Nick Corasaniti, Sydney Ember, Reid J. Epstein, Sheera Frenkel, Christine Hauser, Astead W. Herndon, Nicole Perlroth, Jonathan Martin, Jennifer Medina and Matt Stevens contributed reporting.





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