Trump supporters flooded Iowa hotline, increasing delays
A hotline that was used by Iowa precinct chairs to report Democratic caucus results to the state party was reportedly flooded with calls on Monday from supporters of President Trump after the number was posted online, contributed to the delays in the vote tallying process.
“On Caucus Day, the Iowa Democratic Party experienced an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump,” Mandy McClure, communications director for the party, told the Des Moines Register. “The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results, but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported.”
Sources told Bloomberg that Ken Sagar, a state Democratic central committee member, told other party officials on a Wednesday conference call that a high volume of people called in and expressed support for the president. The number became public after caucus paperwork was posted online, Bloomberg reported.
NBC reported that the number was posted on the fringe website 4chan, along with encouragement to “clog the lines.”
Precinct chairs across Iowa were forced to attempt calling in their results after an app that was to be used by the party to tally votes malfunctioned. There were widespread reports of wait times of upwards of 45 minutes to get through on the phones and some precinct chairs said they simply gave up, went to sleep and tried again in the morning.
The results have been delayed for days following the app malfunction. According to the report, after the issues with the app developed, a number of precinct chairs turned to the hotline to try to report results but were met with hours of hold time and often just gave up.
On Thursday afternoon, Kathy Sullivan, who was chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party during a phone jamming scandal in 2002, which ended with prison sentences for two people, called for an investigation into the reports.
“I was sickened, but not surprised, to hear that Republicans jammed Iowa Democratic Party phone lines Monday night in an effort to disrupt counting and reporting caucus results,” she said. “We experienced Republican efforts to disrupt our election efforts in New Hampshire in 2002. After a thorough investigation by local, state, and federal officials, and the dogged efforts of our legal team, two Republican operatives went to prison, and the state GOP paid New Hampshire Democrats $125,000 in damages.”
The chaos has been a black eye for Democrats at the beginning of the nominating process, as the New Hampshire primary is just days away and there are still no final results from the Hawkeye State.
As of Thursday morning, the party was still counting votes, with 97 percent of precincts reporting.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are locked in a virtual tie.
Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, reportedly didn’t explicitly mention Trump supporters on the conference call but did allude to interference.
In a text message to Bloomberg, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said: “Don’t know anything about that but maybe Democrats should consider using an app of some kind next time.”