Iowa precinct chair says voting app had problems

Published: Feb. 3, 2020 at 2:25 PM CST
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The Iowa caucuses are small local meetings where neighbors and strangers stand up to show their support for a particular candidate and to persuade others to join them.

They're also the first opportunity for Democrats to express their preferences in what's been a long and tumultuous primary. Iowa's 41 pledged national delegates are awarded based on the results.

The winner of the caucuses may also get a boost in fundraising, media attention and momentum in the following primaries. A bad performance could also doom a candidate.

The Latest on the Iowa caucuses (all times local):

11:20 p.m.

An Iowa precinct chairwoman says she did not use the new app created for caucus organizers to report results because organizers had problems trying to download and test it.

"We came to a consensus not to use it," said Ruth Thompson, who chaired a precinct at Lincoln High School in Des Moines.

Results in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus were delayed Monday night because of unspecified “quality checks," Iowa Democratic officials said. They called the problem a “reporting issue."

Thompson said that she also did not try to report her site's results over the phone after hearing reports of long delays in answering the line at state headquarters. Instead, veteran caucusgoers at her site used calculators to compute the delegate allocation and then texted a photo of the result to Polk County Democratic Party officials, who drove it to state party headquarters.

Thompson said the delays in results were unfortunate because the process went "remarkably smoothly" in other ways. She said that her precinct, with a turnout of 385 people, had a much larger space and finished two hours earlier than 2016.

"It was much less contentious in the room, and I feel really good about the way things went," Thompson said.


11:15 p.m.

Brad Parscale, the Trump 2020 campaign manager, commented saying, “Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history. It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system? Tonight President Trump posted a record performance in the well-run GOP Iowa caucuses with record turnout for an incumbent.”

11:05 p.m.

An elections expert says deploying new technology so close to an election is “always a risky proposition” amid a delay in results from Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Des Moines County Chair Tom Courtney said that in his county, an app created for caucus organizers to report results was “a mess” and organizers were instead having to call in results to the state party on Monday night.

Iowa party officials had said they would not be sending the new mobile app to precinct chairs for downloading until just before the caucuses — to narrow the window for any interference.

Lawrence Norden, elections expert with The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, said that was akin to a major retailer using new cash registers for the first time on Black Friday.

“To roll out a new technology without really testing it and making it available as early as possible and giving folks the opportunity to challenge it and work out all the bugs is a high-stakes decision which I think is proving to be problematic today,” Norden said.

Norden said party officials were wise to slow down the reporting to ensure accurate results, given concerns of another round of election interference by Russia or other hostile governments seeking to undermine U.S. democracy.


10:55 p.m.

Representatives for Vice President Joe Biden have written a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party to lodge complaints about the caucus result reporting process.

"We believe that the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released," Dana Remus, general counsel for Biden for President, said.

The letter finishes by saying the campaign was "on to New Hampshire."


10:45 p.m.

Elizabeth Warren says the results of the Iowa caucus are “too close to call” and instead used much of a speech at her caucus party to criticize President Donald Trump.

The Massachusetts senator told hundreds who gathered to cheer her on in downtown Des Moines on Monday night: “We don’t know all the results tonight, but tonight has already shown that Americans have a hunger for big structural change.”

Her White House bid calls for fundamentally remaking the nation’s economic and political system.

Warren said, “A president’s values matters and the only thing Donald Trump values is Donald Trump.” She said the president believes “government is a tool to enrich himself and his corrupt buddies at everyone else's expense.”

She said: "If you can imagine an America where people, not money, come first, then this campaign is for you."

Although the Iowa results aren't yet clear, she added: “Tonight we are one step closer to winning the fight for the America we believe is possible.”

The Iowa Democratic Party says the caucus results have been delayed because of unspecified “quality checks.”


10:40 p.m.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the first Democratic presidential candidate to address the delayed Iowa caucus results, saying, “We know one thing: we are punching above our weight."

The Iowa Democratic Party says the caucus results have been delayed because of unspecified “quality checks.” They say, however, that the problem is a “reporting issue,” not a "hack or an intrusion."

Klobuchar appeared on stage late Monday as the hours ticked by without any vote totals being reported from Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The senator built her campaign around a strong performance in Iowa. While the results are unknown, she says, “We are bringing this ticket to New Hampshire.”


10:30 p.m.

The Iowa Democratic Party says the delay in reporting caucus votes is the result of a “reporting issue” and not because of a “hack or an intrusion.”

Communications director Mandy McClure said Monday night that the party “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.”

She says the party is using photos of the results and a paper trail to “validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report."

She says: “The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."

It was not immediately clear how long it would take the state party to produce results. Iowa holds the nation's first presidential voting contest.


10:20 p.m.

Iowa Democratic Party officials are holding a phone call with campaigns amid delays in reporting caucus results.

People familiar with the decision spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to describe the private call.

The Iowa Democratic Party said earlier Monday night that it was experiencing a delay in reporting results from the first-in-the nation caucuses because of unspecified “quality checks.”

Communications director Mandy McClure said in a statement Monday night that the delay is also the result of the party reporting three sets of data for the first time.

"We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. 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," McClure said.

McClure says the party has data so far from “around 25%” of the state’s 1,765 precincts and “and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016."


9:40 p.m.

The results from the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses were slow to come in Monday night.

The reasons for the delays were unclear. The Iowa Democratic Party would not comment on what was slowing down reporting from caucus precincts around the state. ABC News is reporting that technical issues are delaying the results, with party officials working on "quality control" of the results.

"The integrity of the results is paramount. We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time," Mandy McClure, Iowa Democratic Party director, said. "What we know right now is that around 25% of precincts have reported and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016."

Des Moines County Chair Tom Courtney said technology issues appeared to be contributing to the delay. Courtney said that in his county, an app created for caucus organizers to report results was “a mess” and organizers were instead having to call in results to the state party.


9:20 p.m.

The minutes kept ticking by, and Bryan Pollpeter just couldn't decide.

In the first round Pollpeter was undecided, and as the deadline neared in the second and final round, he stood near the doors at the Hoover High School gym in north Des Moines and looked a bit desperate.

"I like them all, but I'm kind of swinging between Amy and Bernie," he said, referring to Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who run the political spectrum from moderate to democratic socialist.

Pollpeter, a worker at the Des Moines Water Works, acknowledges they have different views, but he found both engaging.

Ultimately, though, he was persuaded to join with Pete Buttigieg. "I was standing over by the Amy people, but no one talked to me," he said. “A Pete woman came over so I said, well, OK, I'll go with Pete.”

He added, “I just want to beat Trump.”


8:15 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet is spending the Iowa caucuses with New Hampshire voters — including one AARP volunteer he joked has been to more than 40 of his events.

The Colorado senator skipped out on Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses Monday to hold his 47th town hall in New Hampshire. He says he’s hoping to finish in the top 3 in the state’s Feb. 11 primary. That’s a long shot based on polling that shows he isn’t breaking through despite spending more time in the state than his rivals.

He says he prides himself on never being late to an event - until Monday. Plane delays from Washington, where he was participating in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, left his town hall attendees watching 15 minutes' worth of Bennet video clips before he arrived.

Bennet says he’s hoping to appeal to undecided New Hampshire voters who don’t believe the leading candidates can beat Trump.

He’s not shy about taking on his more progressive, and more popular, rivals. He’s contrasting his views with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in particularly by outlining his opposition to “Medicare for All” and saying Sanders’ spending proposals are unrealistic.


8 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is visiting a caucus site in Des Moines as voting gets underway in the nation's leadoff voting state.

The Massachusetts senator addressed hundreds of caucusgoers Monday night at a high school gymnasium. She sought to promote a message of unity, saying, “I’m someone who treats all of our Democrats with respect.”

She says the party should nominate a candidate whose campaign organization is as strong nationally as hers is in leadoff Iowa. She added: “I’ve got a great national organization.”

Many of her supporters wore green, the signature color of the Massachusetts senator’s campaign. They chanted, “Warren! Warren!” People caucusing for other candidates also applauded, but a large group of supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders responded, “Bernie beats Trump!”


7:50 p.m.

Iowa Democratic Party officials say an early issue with a mobile app designed to report results will not hinder the Iowa caucus process.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said Monday that there were some reports from precinct officials that they couldn’t log into the app during the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

He said a team of troubleshooters is working to address any technical issues.

He added that the party has alternate ways for precincts to send in results, including a hotline.

“We’ve had an app before, but we’ve also had a hotline before, and folks have had the option to do that, and so we expect that we’ll be able to report the results in a timely manner this evening,” he said.

The app was designed to allow for the quick filing of results, and the issue appears to be the result of different PINs used for early testing and caucus night logins.


7:35 p.m.

Organizers at a large precinct in downtown Iowa City say the caucus may be delayed by an hour or longer as hundreds of people wait to register to vote or check in.

By 7:25 p.m., the 500 seats on the first floor of the Englert Theatre was mostly full and organizers opened up the balcony for more than 200 extra seats. Supporters of several campaigns sat in rows.

Many others who were in line by 7 p.m. were still outside waiting to check in, the lines snaking a block in both directions. The precinct is dominated by the University of Iowa campus and campaigns are vying for nine delegates here.

Iowa kicks off voting in the nation for the presidential race. It is the first contest to measure support for the Democratic candidates.

Voters are gathered at more than 1,700 sites throughout Iowa to declare support for their preferred candidate. They then will participate in “alignment,” which allows supporters of eliminated candidates to choose again.


7:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is the winner of the 2020 Iowa Republican caucuses, a largely symbolic vote as he was facing no significant opposition.

Still, Trump’s campaign was using Monday's contest to test its organizational strength, deploying Cabinet secretaries, top Republican officials and Trump family members to the state.

It's unusual for Iowa to even be holding a GOP contest with an incumbent in the White House. The Iowa Republican caucuses were canceled in 1992 and 2004. But GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufman said state officials were determined to keep the caucuses in place this year to maintain the state’s status as the first in the nation to cast its ballots.

7 p.m.

The first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses have officially begun in Iowa.

At 7 p.m. Central time in Monday, voters gathered at more than 1,700 sites throughout Iowa began declaring support for their preferred candidate. They then will participate in “alignment,” which allows supporters of eliminated candidates to choose again.

For the first time this year, the Iowa Democratic Party will report three sets of results: tallies for the “first alignment” and “final alignment,” as well as each candidate's total of “state delegate equivalents.” Previously, only each candidate's ultimate number of state convention delegates has been reported.

The Associated Press will declare the winner based on the number of state delegate equivalents.

Polls suggest Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may have a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates — Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — could score victory in the unpredictable caucus system.

6:15 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says he has no regrets on skipping the Iowa caucuses.

The billionaire former New York City mayor was campaigning in California on Monday as his rivals for the Democratic nomination prepared for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

Bloomberg suggested that his rivals were falling behind in the race. He noted in Compton that he has made stops in 24 states and 60 cities while the other candidates have been hunkered down in Iowa.

He'd like to think he's a few steps ahead. “I hope so,” Bloombeg said.

Bloomberg’s trip amounted to a carefully planned sideshow to the crescendo of campaigning in Iowa, where the crowded and shifting Democratic field headed toward an uncertain finish in Monday’s caucuses.

It's unusual, but not unprecedented, for a candidate to turn away from Iowa, the time-honored launching pad for presidential candidates. Bloomberg's strategy is to skip the four early voting states and focus instead on the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states voting on March 3.


4:40 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is working to mobilize young voters to caucus for him on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.

More than 20 Sanders campaign volunteers and staffers gathered at the student union Monday afternoon to go over their plans to get out the vote. Among them: a “Bernie bus” to drive supporters to caucus sites and a pizza party in which students will be challenged to persuade 15 others to show up in their candidate's corner.

On campus, Sanders volunteers handed out flyers that highlighted his plans to cancel student debt, provide health care for all and take aggressive steps to combat climate change.

University of Iowa political science student Majid Al-Kaylani, 20, said that the stakes of the election were high for the country and that democratic institutions were under attack. He says he believes Sanders is the only candidate with a progressive agenda who can defeat President Donald Trump in November.

University of Iowa junior Clarissa Beyer, 20, says she has supported Sanders since his first presidential bid in 2016, when she was too young to vote. She says is excited to show her support for him this time, pointing to his plans for health care and free college tuition.


3:05 p.m.

Some of the earliest results of the Iowa caucuses are coming in from thousands of miles away.

In Glasgow, Scotland, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the most support in a small, satellite caucus for Iowans living abroad.

Sanders received support from nine of the 19 caucusgoers who attended. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren ended up with six supporters, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had three.

The other candidates were not viable. Former Vice President Joe Biden received no votes. The results can hardly be considered meaningful -- some 200,000 people are expected to caucus Monday night.

This is the first time Iowa Democrats have held caucuses outside Iowa. The remote sites are intended to make the caucuses more inclusive to Iowans living out of state or abroad.

2:50 p.m.

This is a caucus like Iowans have never seen before. Voters came from Egypt, Italy, London and Amsterdam to gather in Paris and choose their Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election.

Some are serving at U.S military bases. Some are studying abroad. Some had never met another Iowan abroad until Monday night.

And they all love being able to caucus outside Iowa for the first time. Paris is one of just three satellite caucus locations outside the U.S. and drew the biggest number of expat Iowans.

As Monday's caucuses kicked off in a town hall north of the Louvre Museum, the 17 registered voters laughed and begged for one another's votes. They celebrated Midwestern values and European public health care systems -- and debated passionately about how best to best Republican President Donald Trump.

The Paris caucuses were organized by a 20-year-old student who was voting for the first time. Some participants got the wrong address and time, so they restarted the whole thing an hour later.

12:30 p.m.

More than 100 supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg have crowded into the backroom of his West Des Moines, Iowa, headquarters before heading out to knock on doors as the hours tick down to Iowa’s caucuses.

The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor popped in Monday to thank the precinct-level volunteers. Many of the volunteers are sporting the telltale blue and gold borrowed by the campaign from Buttigieg’s hometown University of Notre Dame.

Buttigieg says his campaign and volunteers are exactly where they need to be “to astonish the political world.”

Buttigieg was little known a year ago when he first appeared in Iowa as a presidential prospect. He's now among a pack at the top of the field in Iowa.

Anthony Elarth traveled from Seattle to help train Buttigieg volunteers in Iowa. He says volunteers engaging voters at their doors “want to have a conversation, not a debate.”


10:45 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is reacting to a Trump campaign Super Bowl ad about criminal justice reform as the Iowa caucuses are set to kick off.

Buttigieg says it's one of the handful of things the Republican president has done that he agrees with. But the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor said Monday it “doesn’t change the incredible cruel and divisive racial rhetoric that comes out of this White House.” Buttigieg tells Fox News Channel that's one of the many reasons he's been meeting Democratic and Republican voters who tell him "they struggle to look their children in the eye and explain to them how this is the president of the United States.”

By Monday's end, tens of thousands of Iowa Democrats will have decided the results of their presidential caucus in the contest to challenge Trump. Buttigieg is among the top four candidates, along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The Trump ad features a first-time nonviolent drug offender named Alice Johnson, who was given clemency by Trump shortly after Kim Kardashian pleaded Johnson's case in a meeting with him. Johnson thanks Trump in the ad.


10:30 a.m.

Elizabeth Warren says that taking months of questions from people all over Iowa has made her a strong candidate as the state’s lead-off caucus begin the Democratic presidential primary.

The Massachusetts senator held a Monday morning telephone town hall with Iowans from Washington, where she will be in the Senate for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Warren has thanked the other Democratic presidential candidates who entered the race, many of whom have since dropped out. She says those White House hopefuls, and the questions from ordinary people at town halls, made her a better campaigner and will ensure she’s a better president.

Warren also says it is time for her party to unify and defeat Trump in November’s general election.

Polls show Warren among the front runners in Iowa along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.