The Iowa Democratic Party is still waiting for national party officials to approve its plan for launching virtual caucuses in late January 2020, a new option for voters who can’t, or don’t want to, caucus in person.
The Democratic National Committee, which is requiring that caucus states now allow participation that’s not in-person, raised cybersecurity concerns about Iowa’s plan to use teleconferences late last week. Bloomberg News reported that experts were able to hack into a conference call held by Democratic Party officials.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said there is a misconception that hackers accessed the virtual caucus system.
“What they discovered was a potential vulnerability with one of our potential vendors,” Price said. “And so it was not a hack of anything that had been built because we have not built anything yet.”
Price said Tuesday he is hoping to get approval very soon from DNC officials so the state party can finalize contracts with vendors and develop the virtual caucus system.
“We’re having regular conversations with them, providing them additional information that they have requested, and we hope to have this resolved very soon,” Price said.
Price added he had previously hoped to get full approval of the plan in June.
Drake University political science professor Rachel Paine Caufield said there may be deeper implications of the DNC declining to give full approval to the virtual caucus plan.
“I think it has some real potential to be a very important moment in political history,” Caufield said.
She said this could ultimately threaten Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status in the presidential nominating process.
“It’s going to be very hard to maintain the caucuses under the current DNC rules, and if Iowa isn’t a caucus state, then the exemption and the allowance that Iowa will go first could potentially disappear,” Caufield said.
Price insisted Iowa “will remain first,” and said it’s too early for that kind of speculation.
The Iowa Democratic caucuses are set for February 3, 2020, with virtual caucuses scheduled to start January 29.