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The Iowa Caucus Results Are Still Delayed And Campaigns Are Angry

“This is an unbelievable explanation.”

Last updated on February 4, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. ET

Posted on February 4, 2020, at 12:06 a.m. ET

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The Iowa Democratic Party is delaying the release of the results of Monday night’s Iowa caucus until some time Tuesday because of reporting inconsistencies, infuriating campaigns eager to move on with the election.

“As precinct caucus results started coming in, the IDP ran them through an accuracy and quality check," Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price said in a statement Tuesday morning, after a long night of calls with campaigns and occasional public updates. "It became clear that there were inconsistencies with the reports."

Price said that the party "determined with certainty" that the underlying data from the caucuses was "sound," and that although the app responsible for recording and reporting the data to the party 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," he said. "This issue was identified and fixed." Precinct results are still being reported to the party as of Tuesday morning.

"While our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld,” he said.

The party has consistently emphasized that the problem was not the result of a “hack or intrusion” and that the “underlying data and paper trail is sound.”

Price had delivered a brief statement to reporters after 1 a.m., via conference call, echoing what he just told campaigns in a private call: The party experienced reporting issues, are verifying results against a "paper trail" and "backup system," and the process is "taking longer than expected."

In an earlier short conference at around 10:30 p.m. in Des Moines on Monday, with representatives from each campaign, the IDP said it currently had just 35% of precinct numbers reported and that due to “user error” with its reporting app, it found some slight “inconsistencies,” according to participants on the call. Some numbers, the party said, “didn’t add up.”

The party told campaigns it was comparing the app results with cellphone pictures of the caucus paper worksheets, where caucus results are recorded manually by hand.

The IDP did not take any questions.

At one point, a participant could be heard shouting on the call: “This is an unbelievable explanation.” Another person chimed in, “I think he speaks for all of us.”

One campaign aide described the call as being “hung up” on.

Early Tuesday morning, after the second call, an aide with one of the campaigns told BuzzFeed News they were still unhappy. The IDP, the aide said, "provided no specificity" about when results would be released Tuesday or how it would verify official results.

"It's not just the app that didn't work," the aide said. "There are numerous reports that precinct chairs did not gather preference cards from every caucusgoer, precinct chairs that left because they couldn't report results. It's a real question on how results could be verified at all."

On Twitter and even on radio and television, local officials have reported hour-long hold times with the Iowa state party while trying to report results.

The Biden campaign’s general counsel, Dana Remus, sent a sternly worded letter to the state party’s top leaders Monday night, expressing frustration with “considerable flaws” in the reporting process.

“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. “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.”

Remus also asked that official results not be released until campaigns had a chance to hear more about “quality control” measures and respond to such information. It was not immediately clear if the letter was sent before the conference call.

"The integrity of the process is critical, and there were flaws in the reporting systems tonight that should raise serious concerns for voters," Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager, tweeted later.

J.D. Scholten, a Democratic congressional candidate in northern Iowa, was also perplexed by the glitches.

"I’m not sure what to make of it," Scholten told BuzzFeed News. "I tried reporting, but I was on hold forever, so I decided to hit up my favorite local bar."


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