Caucus crashed: the results of the Democrats delayed by technological problems

DES MOINES: Problems with a mobile application seemed to force a delay in reporting the results of the Iowa caucuses on Monday, leaving campaigns, voters and the media in electoral limbo and pressing for an explanation.

He said he hopes to publish data later on Tuesday after manually verifying his data against paper backups. President Tony Price said the delays were the result of a reporting problem, not a hack or intrusion.

But other caucus organizers directly blame a new technology used to report the results of some 1,700 caucus meetings across the state. Problems with a new mobile application caused confusion, they said, and some caucus organizers were forced to request results for the state party to record them manually, introducing human errors and delays.

des Moines The Democratic president of the county, Tom Courtney, said he heard that in the precincts of his county, including his, the mobile application was a disaster.

Instead, the leaders of the telephone districts sent their results to the Democratic Party headquarters and did not answer the phones, Courtney said.

The problems were a shame for a state that has always tried to protect its precious status as the first contest in the presidential primaries and the first vetter of candidates in the nation. The delay would surely become fodder for critics who argued that caucuses, party meetings that can be chaotic, crowded and messy, are outdated and exclusive.

The Iowa Democratic Party moved forward with the new reporting system amid warnings about the possibility of hacking and technical problems. Party officials said they took numerous security precautions and maintained that any mistake would be easily corrected due to backups and paper tracking.

But the organizers who run the precincts in Iowa could not test the application beforehand. Iowa party officials had said they would not send the new mobile application to chair enclosures to unload until just before the caucus reduced the window for any interference.

Some chairs on the premises said they had problems downloading or logging into the application and did not use it.

The applications barely worked on Monday night, according to a person involved in the processing of the data that requested anonymity to discuss the party's internal system. This forced the attendees of the parties to record the results of the seals by telephone and manually enter them into a database. Officials kept using results photos to validate the results and ensure accuracy.

Jonathan Green, who chaired an enclosure at Lone Tree, said that when he tried to put the results into the reporting application, he received a confusing error message: Protocol unknown. The address specifies a protocol (for example, wxyz: ??.) The browser does not recognize, so it cannot connect to the site correctly.

He said he finally gave up and tried to call the results to the party. Like others, it was put on hold for an extended period of time. In the end, it took hours to report the results of his small site, he said.

The slowdown was exacerbated by the fact that the party was trying for the first time to report three different sets of data: an initial count of each candidate's support, a count after supporters had realigned and the state delegated winners.

We found inconsistencies in the report of three sets of results, the party said in a statement. This is simply a report problem, the application did not crash and this is not a hack or intrusion. The underlying data and the paper trail are solid and will simply take time to report more about the results.

President Donald Trump The campaign quickly took advantage of the issue to sow doubts about the validity of the results.

Quality control (the same) manipulated ?, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted Monday night, adding a frown emoji.

Richard L. Hasen, an election expert and professor at the University of California Law School in Irvine, warned that hasty conclusions should not be drawn about the integrity of the elections.

Most of the time, when there is a problem with an election, it turns out to be the result of administrative incompetence rather than someone cheating or some external interference, Hasen said.

The implementation of new technology so close to an election is always a risky proposition, said Lawrence Norden, an election expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Norden said it is similar to a major retailer that uses new cash registers for the first time on Black Friday.

Implementing a new technology without really testing it and making it available as soon as possible and giving people the opportunity to challenge it and resolve all errors is a high-risk decision that I think is proving problematic today. 'Norden said.

Norden said party officials were prudent to reduce the speed of the reports to ensure accurate results, given the concern of another round of electoral interference by Russia or other hostile governments seeking to undermine US democracy.

People will not remember in two weeks that these results were late, but you can bet that if the results changed dramatically they would, Norden said. Those of us who work in the electoral space support speed accuracy. '

Ruth Thompson, who chaired a precinct at Lincoln High School in des Moines, said she did not use the app to report results because organizers had problems trying to download and test it.

We just reached a consensus that nobody was happy with the application, he said. Nor did he try to report the results of his site by phone after hearing reports of long delays in responding to the line at the state headquarters, he said.

Instead, veteran caucusgoers on their site used calculators to calculate delegate allocation and then sent a photo of the results by text message to Polk County Democratic Party officials, who took it to the state party headquarters.

Thompson said the delays in the results were unfortunate because the process was remarkably smooth in other ways.