Feb 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Iowa's hanging chads

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The stakes aren't quite the same, but the Iowa Caucuses are increasingly looking like Florida 2000.

Why it matters: Apps are the new hanging chads, and good luck convincing people to vote with apps after what they saw play out this week.

The big picture: The Iowa Democratic Party has a crisis of its own making, with ramifications that affect the national party as well as the future of voting.

  • The app glitched on caucus day, with precinct leaders struggling to send in their results.
  • The Iowa Democratic Party botched their planning, with confusion reigning on election night and a lack of viable backup options to stop the bleeding.
  • Posters on 4chan reportedly shared the phone number of the caucus results line and encouraged readers to "clog the lines."
  • When results finally came out 48 hours later, they included a series of errors that the state party didn't catch during what it claimed was a thorough process.
  • Now the state party and DNC are at loggerheads over a "recanvass," with the state party saying the DNC doesn't get to decide.

Between the lines: The issues on election night have combined with a series of errors that make it unclear whether there will ever be a "completely precise account" of Iowa 2020, the N.Y. Times notes.

  • "[M]ore than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules."
  • "In some cases, vote tallies do not add up. In others, precincts are shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the Iowa Democratic Party’s reported results do not match those reported by the precincts."

Go deeper: For those who need a reminder about hanging chads, this NPR story will help.

Go deeper

DNC chair says party will consider revoking Iowa's first-in-nation status

Screenshot: CNN

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that there will "absolutely" be a conversation within the party about stripping Iowa of its first-in-nation caucus status after this election cycle.

The big picture: For years, Democrats have argued that Iowa has a disproportionate amount of influence over the nomination process and that, as a predominantly white state, it doesn't reflect the broader Democratic electorate. Iowa's role has been further called into question following a caucus-day meltdown that has left results undetermined almost a week later.

Iowa Democrats hang up on precinct chair while he's live on CNN

The Iowa Democratic Party was heard live on CNN hanging up on a precinct chair after an hour on hold to report an issue with a new caucus reporting app.

Report: Pro-Trumpers tried to jam Iowa results line

Biden supporters caucus in a Des Moines, Iowa, gym. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Posters on 4chan, the anonymous message board famous as a gathering spot for trolls, shared the phone number of Iowa's Democratic caucus results line Monday evening and encouraged readers to "clog the lines," NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Technical problems with a results-tallying app led many Iowa precincts to try to report numbers by phone. The lines were already overloaded, but it now appears that malicious mischief might also have played a role.