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As New Hampshire Goes To The Polls, Outcome For Iowa Democrats Still Uncertain

Natalie Krebs
IPR File
In the wake of a caucus night fiasco, some Iowa Democratic Party activists are disappointed about the lack of recognition for volunteers and organizers.

There are still no official results out of the Iowa Democratic caucuses as of Tuesday, even as New Hampshire voters go to the polls for that state’s first-in-the-nation primary. Even without finalized results, presidential campaigns and politicos are turning their attention away from Iowa. 

The fallout from the caucus night fiasco continues to disappoint some Iowa Democrats, some of whom worry public trust in the party is on the line.

Multiple failures in the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus night reporting process delayed the release of results for days. Multiple technical errors plagued a brand-new app developed to transmit caucus night numbers, and a back-up party hotline became overwhelmed with callers as precinct leaders abandoned the app and attempted to phone in their results.

In the days since, persistent errors in the party’s published results have prompted questions from media organizations, party members and campaigns.

On Monday Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg requested a recanvass of certain precincts.

The state party is also in the process of conducting a “forensic audit” of what led to the caucus night issues, a process that will be overseen by a committee that includes members of the State Central Committee as well as IDP Chair Troy Price.

For some party activists, one of the disappointments of the caucus night fiasco is what they see as a lack of recognition for months of canvassing, door-knocking, phone banking and voter engagement done by scores of volunteers and organizers.

Lindsey Ellickson is a member of the IDP State Central Committee and served as a temporary chair on caucus night. She says she and her young daughter built meaningful relationships with organizers over the course of the campaign and is sad to see their work seemingly overshadowed by the caucus night meltdown.

“I also just feel really bad for a lot of the staffers and a lot of the people that invested so much time this year in the campaigns that right now…this is kind of the focus of where we’re at. Because I don’t feel like it reflects a lot of their hard work,” Ellickson said.

Ellickson says she still has questions about what exactly went wrong on caucus night and says the party should be candid and clear in order to preserve public trust, which she says is essential for Democrats to do well in down-ballot races in November.

“I am worried about how that plays into voter trust and what we can do to earn that trust back. And I think it’s really, really important as an SCC member myself for the party…to make sure that the party is being open and accountable,” she said.

I also just feel really bad for a lot of the staffers and a lot of the people that invested so much time this year in the campaigns... - Lindsey Ellickson, Iowa Democrats State Central Committee member

The fallout is raising concerns and exposing tensions among some other party members as well. Some have voiced frustration over struggling to explain to other Iowa Democrats why the results released for their precinct were incorrect.

In a Facebook post addressed to Dickinson County Democrats, county party Chair Brett Copeland called for the resignation of both IDP Chair Troy Price and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.

“Chairman Price has proven that he is unable to present a vision for the Iowa Democratic Party that moves beyond the Iowa Caucus. He also has proven to be unable to stand up to the DNC. I have also called for him to resign immediately and believe IDP Executive Director Kevin Geiken should be removed,” Copeland wrote. “Much of the complexity of this Caucus was a result of the requirements the DNC imposed on us. Chairmens Perez and Price seem to forget the Caucus was run by a diverse group of volunteers who were forced to deal with copious amounts of paperwork, process, training, and technology. This model is untenable.”

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, IDP Chair Troy Price was asked about whether Perez is throwing Price “under the bus” in his own criticisms of the process. Price said he’s “very disappointed” by Perez’s comments but says the party is currently focused on finalizing caucus night results.

“What I will say is, we’ve got a job to do and that is to finish up this process. If folks want…there’s going to be a time to assign blame but I will tell you the DNC has been a partner in this process up to, including and after caucus night and anything beyond that, my focus is remaining on producing…finalizing and bringing these caucuses to completion,” Price said.

The Associated Press has said it cannot declare an official winner in the contest because of the delay in reporting numbers and due to “irregularities in the results." 

The fiasco has renewed questions about the role of Iowa and New Hampshire in the presidential nominating process. State officials in New Hampshire are defending their process and have said voters there should have “complete confidence” in Tuesday’s primary election.