Buttigieg out in front of stalled Iowa caucuses

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – The nation waited close to 21 hours to hear any results from Monday’s first-in-the-nation presidential contest in Iowa.

A coding glitch and user-error in an app called IowaReporterApp, created by Shadow Inc, and a phone bank backlog, wreaked havoc on most Iowa caucus reporting and has a created a nationwide raised eyebrow as to Iowa’s place at the front of race.

Iowa Democratic Party officials released 62% of the state’s results at about 3:45 p.m. Central time Tuesday. The move has failed to produce a projected winner, but Iowa caucuses technically aren’t about a winner, but how delegate equivalents will be divvied up.

Iowa Democratic Party officials were hoping to have the rest of the results posted on Tuesday, but didn’t guarantee anything.

Officially, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is leading the state with more than a third yet to report. Buttigieg had 363 delegate equivalents to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 338. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had 246, while former Vice President Joe Biden currently sits at 210.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar garnered 164, which would be considered a better showing than anticipated.

In Lee County, 15 of the 19 precinct results were reported in the 3:45 p.m. release. Of those precincts, with only 21% yet to report, Buttigieg had 560 votes. Biden was second in Lee County with 364, followed by Sanders with 350, and Warren with 126. Klobuchar had 84 and entrepreneur Andrew Yang finished with 56. It is unclear at this point if the satellite voting is included in those tallies.

The top three in final alignment preferences in the county were Buttigieg with 306, Biden with 211, and Sanders with 194.

Lee County has 150 delegates to allocate to the county convention and 21 state delegate equivalents.

Several county precinct chairs struggled to get numbers into the state and some waited as long as two hours on hold to report numbers when the app either failed or encountered issues.

But Fort Madison Precinct 1 Chair Rebecca Bowker said the app worked great and she was done in a matter of minutes. Bowker’s precinct results are part of the 62% released.

“I think the app is getting a bad rap,” she wrote in a text to the Pen City Current.

“I downloaded it prior to last night. The app itself was extremely friendly. However, there were some authentication steps that, if not followed, could have made it difficult for some users.”

But Fort Madison Precinct 2 chair Bob Morawitz wasn’t able to have his results received via the backup phone in system until approximately 11:30 p.m. The caucus ended at Lincoln Elementary at 8:30 p.m.

Lee County Chair Mary Jo Reisberg was the precinct chair in Keokuk’s Precinct 3 and finally got her votes entered at about 11:15 p.m. At 10:05 p.m. Monday, Riesberg had been on hold for over an hour.

“I’d say the caucus itself was well-planned. The reporting system is the issue,” she wrote in a text Monday night. She couldn’t speak via phone due to being on hold with IDP officials.

Reisberg said she assumed the state ran some kind of a test, but users had varying degrees of difficulty downloading it.

“If we were successful with the download, there were problems signing in. So for the users, there wasn’t the type of preview you usually have with a reporting app,” she said.

“I know one person in Lee County used it with success. Maybe more, but I only know of one.”

IDP officials released several statements throughout the day about the process and what the nation could expect.

“Today we informed campaigns that we will be releasing the majority of caucus results at 4 p.m. CST. Moving forward — just like we would have on caucus night — we will continue to release results as we are able to. We are also executing our plans and procedures to gather the paper documents and chasing any additional precincts to report results as we normally would on caucus night,” wrote IDP Communications Director Mandy McClure Tuesday afternoon.

Troy Price, the IDP chairman, tried to explain some of the issues with a statement just after 8 a.m. Tuesday.

“We have every indication that our systems were secure and there was not a cyber security intrusion. In preparation for the caucuses, our systems were tested by independent cybersecurity consultants,” Price wrote. 

“As precinct caucus results started coming in, the IDP ran them through an accuracy and quality check. It became clear that there were inconsistencies with the reports. The underlying cause of these inconsistencies was not immediately clear, and required investigation, which took time. 

“As this investigation unfolded, IDP staff activated pre-planned backup measures and entered data manually. This took longer than expected. 

“As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound. While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed. The application’s reporting issue did not impact the ability of precinct chairs to report data accurately. 

“While our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld.”

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