DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Democratic Party says results from the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus have been delayed indefinitely due to “quality checks” and “inconsistencies” in some reporting. It’s an embarrassing complication that adds a new layer of doubt to an already uncertain presidential primary season.
As Monday night was about to turn to Tuesday, the party said the problem was not a result of a “hack or an intrusion.” Across the state, Democrats balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat President Donald Trump had tried to be recorded.
Nearly a dozen Democratic White House contenders are still vying for the chance to take on Trump in November.
Problems with a mobile app appear to have forced the delay, as the campaigns, voters and the media pressed party officials for an explanation — and got few answers.
An Iowa Democratic party official pointed to “quality control” as the source of the delays — but notes that about a quarter of the state’s nearly 1,700 precincts have reported their data already. Communications director Mandy McClure said Monday night that the party “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.”
The Iowa Democratic Party had decided to report three sets of results: tallies for the “first alignment” and “final alignment,” as well as each candidate’s total of “state delegate equivalents.” Previously, only each candidate’s ultimate number of state convention delegates had been reported.
McClure says the party is using photos of the results and a paper trail to “validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report."
She says: “The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."
It was not immediately clear how long it would take the state party to produce results.
Des Moines County Chair Tom Courtney said earlier technology issues appeared to be contributing to the delay. Courtney said that in his county, an app created for caucus organizers to report results was “a mess” and organizers were instead having to call in results to the state party.
Turnout for the caucuses is on pace to match 2016 levels based on early data, according to a state party official on Monday night.
At some caucus sites there were long lines and delays, with the caucus starting about an hour late at a downtown Iowa City precinct. The Democratic county party chairman in Polk County, Iowa’s largest county, says the party printed tens of thousands of extra voter registration forms but some sites were running out. He says “this caucus is gonna be the big one.”
About 170,000 people participated in 2016. The high-water mark for the contest was 2008, when nearly 240,000 participated.
Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses have been expected to provide some clarity for what has been a muddled nomination fight, but that remains to be seen.
The top four candidates are Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Some expect the candidates to finish locked in a four-way muddle. But heading into New Hampshire there might be some separation within the moderate and progressive lanes, at least.
The Iowa caucuses are small local meetings where neighbors and strangers stand up to show their support for a particular candidate and to persuade others to join them. They’re also the first opportunity for Democrats to express their preferences in what’s been a long and tumultuous primary.
Iowa’s 41 pledged national delegates are awarded based on the results. The winner of the caucuses may also get a boost in fundraising, media attention and momentum in the following primaries.
A bad performance could also doom a candidate.
Iowa Democrats came to the state’s caucuses Monday with key issues dominating their thoughts: health care, climate change and a fierce motivation to unseat President Donald Trump.
More than the economy, immigration or foreign policy, Democrats in the nation’s opening round of presidential primaries were mostly focused on access to medical treatment and the health of a planet being rapidly warmed by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.
AP VoteCast is a survey of more than 2,700 voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses in Iowa, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Voices on the right and left are offering up unsubstantiated claims about voting fraud and rigged elections as Iowans cast the first votes of the 2020 presidential campaign.
The state’s Republican secretary of state has criticized a conservative group for using old statistics and bad math to make a false claim about voter fraud.
Some supporters of Democrat Bernie Sanders have taken to social media to spread unfounded speculation that the caucus would be rigged to ensure Sanders loses.
That’s a claim President Donald Trump repeated in a tweet.
Experts say such unfounded claims undermine confidence in the electoral system.