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Dubuque County Democratic party chair feels 'left in the dark' by state party since caucus

Dubuque County Democratic Party Chair Steve Drahozal said the number of delegates to the county convention was incorrectly assigned to two candidates on this caucus math worksheet. (Mary Green/KCRG)
Dubuque County Democratic Party Chair Steve Drahozal said the number of delegates to the county convention was incorrectly assigned to two candidates on this caucus math worksheet. (Mary Green/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Feb. 10, 2020 at 11:41 PM CST
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On Monday, the Iowa Democratic Party announced two presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, requested a partial recanvass of the results that came out of 143 precincts.

Five of those precincts and two satellite locations are in Dubuque County. Steve Drahozal, the county’s Democratic Party chairperson, said that as far as he knows, he and his party don’t need to do anything to assist with recanvassing.

But, he’s not certain, because Drahozal said he hasn’t received communication on this matter or on much else from the Iowa Democratic Party over the last week.

"I'm frustrated with it,” Drahozal said. “I understand that they have a lot of pressure on them right now, but as a county chair, there's a lot of issues going on."

Drahozal said the caucus-related questions he's been asked by Dubuque County residents over the last week have been nonstop, with some people even asking his wife for answers.

In the time since the caucuses on Monday, February 3, he’s received little communication from the IDP — once in an email on Tuesday, informing county chairs that someone from the state party would be picking up their precinct documents and materials, such as presidential preference cards and caucus math worksheets; once in person when that IDP representative collected the materials; and once in response to an emailed question Drahozal sent.

"Other than that, I have not heard anything from the IDP,” Drahozal said. "Everything that I'm finding out, I'm finding out through media reports."

That includes the news that multiple Dubuque County precincts were part of those recanvass requests.

One of those, requested by Bernie Sanders' campaign, is at a precinct where someone had already alerted Drahozal to a math error in the allocation of county delegates.

"Pete Buttigieg got an extra delegate, and Elizabeth Warren was shorted a delegate,” Drahozal explained, adding that he believed the mistake to be a “good faith error,” and not an intentional change to benefit Buttigieg.

"This precinct chair caucused for a candidate other than Pete Buttigieg,” Drahozal said.

No one from the IDP has told him what he's supposed to do about this known error, if anything.

At a press conference Monday in Des Moines, IDP chairperson Troy Price told reporters that no one should correct the math on those caucus worksheets.

"For us, they are the official record of what took place in the room, and we do not believe that we should be altering what is the official record of what happened in the room,” Price said.

Price said the recanvass process entails checking what's written on the math worksheets to what has been reported. A recount can follow a recanvass, which involves reviewing presidential preference cards and possibly correcting delegate count totals.

Drahozal said he knows of at least one other precinct in Dubuque County where the precinct chair didn't include much on the worksheet besides the final results. Volunteers were instructed to show their work on the papers to document first alignments, final alignments and how they calculated delegates.

"It kind of goes back to our math teachers in high school, show your work,” Drahozal said. “This was the most important show-your-work math assignment that any of us have ever had."

Again, he doesn't know what to do next.

"I don't know how we're — if we're even to correct these issues,” Drahozal said.

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