Iowa results delayed as precincts struggle with caucus phone app

DES MOINES – Results from the Iowa Caucuses were delayed on Monday (Feb 3) as some precinct chairs in the state said they were struggling to use the new phone application for reporting results.

One precinct chair in Polk County told Bloomberg News he still has not been able to report his results because the phone app was not working and he has been on hold with an alternative hotline for more than 30 minutes.

The application is one of the ways local officials who oversee individual caucuses are able to send results from each of the nearly 1,700 sites to the Iowa Democratic Party, which compiles and checks the results.

It wasn’t clear whether the trouble with the phone application was behind substantial delays in reporting caucus results. The Iowa Democratic Party said the slow reporting of returns was a result of “quality control” efforts.

“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. What we know right now is that around 25 per cent of precincts have reported, and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016,” state party Communications Director Mandy McClure said in a statement.

The app was created to improve the efficiency of reporting results, but some chairs said they were unable to use the app on Monday. They still were able to send their results to the party via a call-in number. Phoning in the numbers also could contribute to delays.

Four Democratic county chairs told Bloomberg News earlier in the day that some precinct-level officials told them that they had been unable to download or log in to the phone app.

“We are experiencing some issues in terms of people being able to load and connect with the app for their precinct reporting,” said Bret Nilles, chairman of the Linn County Democratic Party.

The Iowa Democratic Party had said any app problems would not affect the reporting of the results.

“The IDP is working with any precinct chairs who want to use the optional tabulation application to make sure they are comfortable with it,” McClure said Monday afternoon.

The issues reported Monday have to do with the functionality of the app, including problems with downloading and logging in. The state party has said it has no cybersecurity concerns over the app’s use.

The party first used a phone application to report results in 2016, but before then, all results were submitted by phone.

“A lot of us are going to be doing it on paper and calling it in,” said Kelcey Brackett, the chairman of the Muscatine County Democratic Party.

Beyond the potential delay of reporting results, Brackett said the problems should not affect the caucuses.

“The app was to most of the chairs a very new thing,” he said. “They were looking forward to being able to use it but we’re back to use pen and paper, which everyone is familiar with and should be easy.”

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