DNC chairman calls for an immediate recanvass of Iowa caucus results after delay, inconsistencies

Three days after Iowa caucus sites closed their doors and 97 percent of precincts reporting, the head of the national Democratic Party is calling for the Iowa chapter to recount their tallies out of the caucuses.


Ryan Adams

A caucus participant walks into Phillips Hall on Feb. 3, 2020. Those who could not make it to their caucus location participated in the satellite site.

Sarah Watson, Managing Editor

DNC chairman Tom Perez called for an immediate recanvass of Iowa caucus results Thursday, three days after results were delayed on caucus night and discrepancies between metrics were found.

In a tweet, Perez wrote “Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass.”

For the first cycle ever, the Iowa Democratic Party reported additional metrics that represent totals at different steps in the caucusing process, in an effort to add transparency to the Iowa caucuses after complaints from the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

As the Iowa Democratic Party released nearly all of the precinct tallies — 97 percent of precincts are now reporting — Sanders climbed within three state delegate equivalents of former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a virtual tie.

So far, Buttigieg leads Sanders in state delegate equivalents at 550 to Sanders’ 447, but Sanders leads in total number of people in his corner on first alignment and after the final alignment, when people in nonviable camps either left or joined a new camp.

While in New Hampshire, Sanders claimed a win out of the Iowa caucuses.

“What I want to do today, three days late, is to thank the people of Iowa for the very strong victory they gave us at the Iowa caucuses on Monday night,” Sanders said at a news conference Thursday. “Even though the vote tabulations have been extremely slow, we are now at a point with some 97 percent of the precincts reporting where our campaign is winning the popular initial vote by some 6,000 votes. In other words, some 6,000 more Iowans came out on caucus night to support our candidacy than the candidacy of anyone else. And when 6,000 more people come out for you in an election than your nearest opponent, we here in northern New England, we call that a victory.”

The math to count delegates from the Iowa caucuses is complicated, and according to an investigation by The New York Times, there were discrepancies between counts of first alignment to final alignment to state delegate equivalents, though the errors aren’t tilted toward one candidate or another. Rather, many mistakes could be chalked up to human tabulating error, but do call into question the results of the first-in-the-nation nominating contest, which separate the top two candidates by a tenth of a percentage point.

Although Perez called on the Iowa Democratic Party to do a recanvass of results, the party’s delegate selection plan is only able to conduct one in response to a candidate request.

The Iowa Democratic Party has 48 hours to respond to a valid, written, request for recanvass, signed by the candidate. Any request for recanvass must include the scope and credible explanation of the reasons of the request.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price issued a statement via email that the party would be prepared if a candidate requested to conduct a recanvass, saying the IDP would audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns. He didn’t say explicitly that the Iowa Democratic Party would immediately begin a recanvass.

Read Price’s full statement below.

“While I fully acknowledge that the reporting circumstances on Monday night were unacceptable, we owe it to the thousands of Iowa Democratic volunteers and caucusgoers to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results.

“Throughout the collection of records of results, the IDP identified inconsistencies in the data and used our redundant paper records to promptly correct those errors. This is an ongoing process in close coordination with precinct chairs, and we are working diligently to report the final 54 precincts to get as close to final reporting as possible.

“Going forward, we are fully committed to the integrity of the preferences expressed by dedicated, passionate, and fervent Iowa Democrats. This caucus opened new opportunities for accessibility that were never available before – including over 1,500 caucusgoers attending satellite caucuses in senior living centers, Mosques, and overseas, and first-of-their-kind Spanish language and hand sign sites. This process will not be complete until we honor them.

“Since the beginning of the process, we have taken unprecedented steps to gather redundant reports to ensure accuracy of all underlying data. The IDP is nearing completion in collecting redundant materials from all 1,756 precincts, including hand-collecting materials from all 99 counties which are securely stored in Des Moines.

“Should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection Plan request a recanvass, the IDP is prepared. In such a circumstance, the IDP will audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns. This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans.”

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