Frustration, questions as delays hamper Iowa caucuses

Frustrations mounted late Monday night after the Iowa Democratic Party said it found “inconsistencies” in the reporting of the caucus results and delayed releasing any precinct vote tallies to ensure the integrity of the election.

The unusually long wait for the delegate totals to be released left the political world on pins and needles as it awaited the highly anticipated results from the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Conspiracy theories flew across the internet and cable news outlets, which had been broadcasting live on the air for hours without any data to report.

Around 2 a.m. Tuesday the Iowa Democratic Party held a short press call to say results would be released later in the day and the delay was the result of reporting problems, not a hack.

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In an earlier statement, the party said 25 percent of precincts had reported their results — a low number about three hours after the caucuses officially started.

However, even those results have not yet been released.

After mounting speculation, the state party released a statement earlier in the night saying that a change in the way the outcome will be reported had sowed some confusion and that no results would be reported until the “inconsistencies” were cleared up.

“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” said state party spokeswoman Mandy McClure. “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.” 

Party officials also held a call with campaigns that seemingly failed to alleviate concerns.

“They basically told us nothing,” one senior advisor to a leading candidate said of the call between Iowa Democratic Party leaders and the campaigns.

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Another Democratic campaign source, when asked by The Hill, what they were hearing about the situation, responded, "Literally nothing."

An official with the campaign of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE (I-Vt.) said they "didn't know anything." And a fourth campaign official simply responded to a text inquiry with a shrug emoji. 

The general counsel for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Klobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE's campaign sent a letter to the party pointing to "considerable flaws" in the caucus system. 

"We appreciate that you plan to brief campaigns momentarily on these issues, and we will be participating," Dana Remus wrote. "However, 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."

For the first time, the state party will release three sets of data this year.

The first tally will reveal how many supporters showed up at each caucus site for each candidate.

After that first alignment, supporters of candidates who did not reach the 15 percent threshold will be able to realign behind another candidate, which will represent the second vote count.

The third count will assign “state delegate equivalents,” which are the numbers news outlets will use to declare the winner. 

The state party is also using a new app for the precincts to report their results, and there were some reports that users had issues with the new technology.

The state party refuted that notion and insisted that there was no outside meddling.

“This is simply a reporting issue,” McClure said. “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.”

The state party did not give an estimated time for when the results will be released.

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One caucus secretary, Shawn Sebastian, said that he’d been on hold for 90 minutes trying to manually report his precinct’s results.

Sebastian said on CNN that once he finally got through, the state party hung up on him.

Across Iowa, the campaigns were in a holding pattern, their caucus night parties and speeches delayed.

Despite the lack of results, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race Buttigieg proposes undoing SALT deduction cap MORE (D-Minn.) became the first presidential candidate to address supporters Monday night, thanking them and announcing that she would get on a plane tonight for New Hampshire to campaign for next week’s primary.