Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Hello, Iowa…?

There was an episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore” show where the station was covering a local election, but there was a problem in getting the results because of a snowstorm, so the team had to vamp for hours while staring at the tote board that showed no votes counted.  Hilarity ensued.

Well, it isn’t snow that’s causing the delay in reporting the results of the Iowa caucuses; there’s an app for that.

The Iowa Democratic Party says it will release results of Monday night’s caucuses on Tuesday, saying inconsistencies in reporting caused the delay. Many of the candidates have already gone to New Hampshire, which holds its primaries in a week.

The candidates who were actively competing in Iowa included Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); former vice president Joe Biden; former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and investor Tom Steyer.


Sean Bagniewski, chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, said that local officials were aware of problems with the app since last Thursday and that they had requested state officials resolve the problems — to no avail.

“We knew the app was a problem last Thursday,” Bagniewski said.

When local party officials asked the state party about issues they had with the app, they were referred to a “dedicated staffer” who was not able to solve the problems, he said.

“We had had so many complaints about the app that we started telling our chairs that if they were having problems with the app then you should call in the results,” Bagniewski said.

The state party did not provide any training on how to use the app, he said, adding that while the caucus trainings are done at the county level, the app itself came from the state level.

Local officials had trouble downloading the app, getting a PIN to log in, and activating it even when they had a PIN, Bagniewski said.

Then, when precinct chairmen tried to call the results in via the hotline, they were placed on hold for as long as two hours, he said.

“When our chairs are calling, it’s a wait time of an hour and a half or two hours. In some cases they have dropped the call,” he said. “I swear my chairs are coming in and saying it was the best caucus ever. So it is really really bittersweet. … It is really really hard to wrap our heads around it.”

Stay tuned for further developments. Meanwhile, this is Ted Baxter…