Things are not going well.
As of midnight, barely any results from the Iowa Caucus have been released.
Ensuring accuracy is very understandable, as is some delays over prior years given the new reporting system, but the current situation seems untenable for the state party, the presidential candidates or the state of the 2020 nominating process.
According to reporters covering those on a conference call with the state party, the results will be announced Tuesday, the day that it already is.
Some candidates appeared to do quite well tonight from anecdotal reports from dozens of precincts. Others appear to have imploded. No one currently knows the full picture of that, however, so it is difficult to ascertain at this point what Iowa meant for the Democratic field.
“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” an Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson said in a statement earlier Monday evening. “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. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”
There are many reports that caucus chairs are now texting photos of their final caucus night sheets and numbers into local party officials.
Based on our reporting, multiple problems appeared to combine to stall the reporting of caucus results.
First, many caucus chairs were unable to log into the app. This morning, this reporter attempted to help a chair figure out her reporting app, which she had been trying unsuccessfully for two days to set up. It required multiple PIN numbers, logins and text messages to get set up. Despite multiple efforts, the app would not accept any of the various PIN numbers on the instruction sheet or those sent through texts.
Other precinct chairs told Starting Line they were able to send in their numbers through the app, it just went slowly.
For those who could not use the app, a backup phone line system took incredibly long for chairs to call into. The Lee County Democratic Party chair was on hold for over an hour before she was able to tell the state party their local results. A different Fort Madison chair could not get their numbers in until around 11:30 p.m.
But it appears there was another issue.
The state party emphasized it was doing quality control checks on the numbers. This was the first year that all three numbers — the initial raw vote number, the second alignment raw vote and the final delegate totals — were all reported. That also meant that the party could check to see if the calculations the local volunteers added up correctly.
Given the statement that the party “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” this likely means that they would need to circle back with local chairs where numbers didn’t add up.
At this late point in the evening, many local chairs that would need to be called or still report have gone to bed.
When more official results start flowing in is unclear. There was an “all-hands-on-deck” call put out for assistance at the IDP’s caucus night headquarters.
Without any hard information, campaigns have started to release their own internal reports. Both the Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns are declaring victory on that.
If there is one small positive tonight, it is that the IDP seems to have built up enough good will previously with the campaigns that none of them are outright trying to burn the party down for the errors.
by Pat Rynard