Democratic Caucus Results in Iowa Thrown Into Confusion Results Delayed Amid ‘Inconsistencies in the Reporting’


They’re so crooked. They did it to Hillary in ’08. They’re doing it again. Their app broke? Are they searching car trunks for ballots?

Related: Poll: Bernie Sanders Leaps to Massive 15-Point Lead in New Hampshire

Democratic Caucus Results in Iowa Thrown Into Confusion

Results delayed amid ‘inconsistencies in the reporting’

DES MOINES, Iowa—The Iowa Democratic Party was slow Monday night to release the results of its presidential caucuses, saying it had found “inconsistencies in the reporting” as the country awaited the outcome of the first-in-the-nation nominating contest.

“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,” Mandy McClure, the state party’s communications director, said in a statement.

She said a mobile app used to record and report results from each caucus site “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.”

The reporting was complicated in this year’s caucuses by additional data being reported. For the first time—in response to calls for greater transparency—the state party was to release the raw total for votes from both rounds of voting, along with the traditional share of delegates won.

Several of the presidential campaigns said they had been invited to meet with state party officials to be briefed on the situation.

Richard Harpootlian, a former South Carolina Democratic chairman who volunteered for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign in a suburban Des Moines precinct, called the caucuses “the most convoluted, distorting process I’ve ever been involved with.”

“Our process ended almost an hour and a half ago. We all entered stuff on an app. So where’s the results? They’re just dragging it out,” Mr. Harpootlian said.

The caucuses kicked off Democrats’ quest to find a challenger to President Trump in November’s election, formally opening a primary campaign that showed no signs of wrapping up quickly.

The party has been debating whether to back someone promising major change and a bigger governmental role in the economy, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, or a more moderate candidate who might win over independents and some Republicans. Mr. Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., fall into that camp.

There are indications the party is unlikely to resolve this debate soon. All four of the top candidates heading into the caucuses had campaign war chests large enough to sustain them through February, including New Hampshire’s primary on Feb. 11.

In Iowa, nearly 1,700 neighborhood caucuses, typically held in school gymnasiums and public libraries, started at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EST). Dozens of other “satellite caucuses” are being held for those unable to attend a meeting in their own neighborhood.

Some precinct chairs struggled to transmit caucus results, according to people familiar with the situation, both via a mobile app and by a backup telephone system.

Two caucus organizers said before the gatherings started that they had heard about issues with downloading or logging into the app, meaning they would likely need to call in their results over a secure phone line that had been set up as a backup plan.

“There’s been some issues with the app,” said Kelcey Brackett, the chairman of the Muscatine County Democratic Party. “It’s working for some folks, not for others.”

The state party said before the caucuses that the reported issues had come mainly from areas with poor cellphone service or have involved minor user errors.

After the caucuses began, a caucus official in Story County said in an interview that the app “wasn’t working at all.”

“We weren’t set up for everyone to have to use the phone, it sounds like,” said Adin Mann. “I’m at home trying to get the paperwork organized all the way they want it. It’s scattered all over the room here.”

About two-thirds of those attending the Democratic caucuses said they preferred a nominee who is more likely to win in November rather than a candidate who shares their positions on key issues, according to early data from entrance polling reported by NBC News.

The early data pointed to a generational divide, with Mr. Sanders getting support from roughly half of caucus-goers who were 17 to 29 years old, while Mr. Biden was supported by almost four in 10 participants 65 or older.

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