What started out with election excitement ended in suspicion and few answers.
The Iowa Caucus of the Democrats went late into the night with confusion over the actual results, and candidates having to give their “victory” speeches without knowing even when the results would come.
In multiple precincts, callers said that caucus chairs did not know how to calculate the final math. The rules allowed people to leave the building they were caucusing in after the first round of “alignment.” Some caucus chairs counted only the total of those who remained in the room for the second round of alignment, rather than the total of all who had initially come through the door.
It’s a “ranked choice” voting method that ended in disaster, as it was calculated in different ways in different precincts.
Others said their technology was to blame. The precincts were using an application (an app) created for caucus officials. The app wasn’t giving accurate results.
Confusion reigned late into the night on Monday, with no clear results and fading confidence by the grassroots supporters of candidates. Was this yet another attempt to cut Bernie Sanders out?
Party officials finally held a call with the campaigns late Monday night, and said that the party had “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.”
There is a paper trail, the party says, to allay concerns that the system was hacked.
“The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results,” a Democrat spokeswoman said.
Joe Biden’s campaign is now questioning the integrity and eventual results. The campaign sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party demanding a full explanation about the “acute failures” that were occurring statewide.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters across the country are already deeply suspicious of the Democratic National Committee rigging the process, like it did in 2016 when it awarded the majority of delegates to Hillary Clinton.
For Republicans on social media, the jokes were writing themselves:
“What’s the hold up? The Democrats are socialists. Just evenly distribute the delegates and call it a night,” wrote Keri Kellerman.
“Siri, show me what Democrats will do if they run America’s economy and healthcare system,” quipped media personality Ben Shapiro.
“Going just like the Obama Care rollout. What a disaster, but at least Democrats are consistent,” another trolled.
“On my second bowl of popcorn. This is fun!” wrote Laura Ingraham.
Even Alaska’s expert on caucuses and presidential preference polls got in on the fun:
“I thought about calling Tom Begich to see if he wants me to come run their primary,” quipped Randy Ruedrich, former chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.
WHAT ABOUT ALASKA DEMOCRATS?
Alaska Democrats have to be watching with concern. In just a few weeks, they will roll out their own ballot-caucus, in which they will attempt to use mail-in ballots, ranked voting, and in-person elections, all run by volunteers.
They, too, will be using technology to help them calculate the results, and calculating ranked-choice voting will require a bit of trust in the software and trust in the users of the system.
The Alaska Democrats’ plan was approved of by the Democratic National Committee late last year, but then in January, the party’s data director left in haste, and the FBI was called in to interview the staff and officers.
No explanation has been given by the Alaska Democrats about the reason the FBI was brought in.