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Iowa Caucus: Technical Difficulties and Caucus Confusion

Even without the results, several candidates still declared victory.

By:  |  February 5, 2020  |    442 Words

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

What happens when the app designed to report voting results fails? Tuesday’s Iowa’s caucus fiasco, of course. So, what happened?

No one really knows for sure, not even the app’s developers. At 10:26 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, the Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement:

“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. 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.”

In other words, a complete fail from the onset?

There were reservations about the software even before the event. Sean Bagniewski, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Polk County – which happens to be the most populous – decided not to use the app at all and instructed his precinct chairs to phone in the results as they had done in the past. Good plan, but then no one could get through.

The problems were not just calculation errors. There were no test runs or training beforehand and people either couldn’t get the app downloaded or, if they were able to, couldn’t report the information needed.

I Won! No, I Did!

If the chaotic confusion of the failed app wasn’t enough of a commotion, the Democratic candidates were quick to each declare victory for their camps.

Buttigieg’s response was bold. “Tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality,” he declared while a campaign spokesperson posted screen shots of precincts where he had reportedly won.

Not to be outdone, the Bernie Sanders’ campaign released a set of “internal caucus numbers” that claimed accounted for 40% of the state’s precincts. Jeff Weaver, a senior advisor of the campaign, said, “We believe firmly that our supporters worked too hard for too long to have the results of that work delayed.”

Joe Rospars, the chief strategist for Elizabeth Warren joined in the foray, admonishing candidates for jumping to conclusions. In a tweet, he said, “Any campaign saying they won or putting out incomplete numbers is contributing to the chaos and misinformation.” However, one minute before that post, he had written, “It’s a very close race among the top three candidates (Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg) and Biden came in a distant fourth.”

Even President Trump got in on the claims to victory, tweeting: “The Democrat Caucus is an unmitigated disaster. 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’.”


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