Iowa Democratic Party Will Recanvass More Than 80 Caucus Precincts

Feb 6, 2020

Democratic caucus frontrunners Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have requested the recanvassing of a total of 85 Iowa caucus precincts. 

Monday was the deadline for campaigns to request a recanvass, which is narrower than a recount and involves rechecking the precinct worksheets. 

Iowa is still dealing with the fallout of delayed Democratic caucus results, even as the presidential candidates have competed in New Hampshire and prepare for the upcoming caucuses in Nevada.

The Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday accepted the requests from caucus front-runners Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg for a limited recanvass of more than 80 caucus precincts.

In a letter to both of the campaigns, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price wrote that the party’s recanvass committee plans to start the process Sunday and expects it to take two days.

Price noted that the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee will send the two campaigns more details on Friday about the costs of the recanvass and the timeline.

According to the letter, the two presidential campaigns will have 24 hours after receiving those details to decide if they want to go forward with their requests.

Update on Monday, Feb. 10: Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in a press conference Monday that he is working to deliver a "full and complete caucus."

"In every step of the process, we have held high our responsibility to not rush to judgment to ensure that the information we share are the facts and nothing else," Price said. "And to stay focused on our end goal and not let distractions hamper us from our progress."

Price said he was "very disappointed" by Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez's call last week for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin a recanvass amid delays and uncertainty surrounding results.

Price said the IDP has 48 hours to review and respond to each campaigns' request.

"It is safe to say this was not the caucus that the hundreds of thousands of Iowa Democratic deserved. And as I said a week ago, I apologize deeply for this," Price said.

Update on Friday, Feb. 7: The Iowa Democratic Party is extending the deadline for presidential campaigns to request what would amount to a recount of the Iowa Caucus. Campaigns now have until noon on Monday, Feb. 10 to call for a recanvass, where the IDP would audit the paper records provided by precinct chairs.

The New York Times and Associated Press have reported discrepancies in the data that was manually compiled by the IDP. In some cases candidates appeared to gain supporters in the second round of alignment after having no support in the first round, which should not have been allowed.

The IDP is telling campaigns to submit evidence of errors in the data for review by midday Saturday.

Update on Thursday, Feb. 6: Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said on Thursday that he is calling on Iowa’s Democratic Party to “immediately begin a recanvass” amid days of delays and uncertainty surrounding results from the Iowa caucuses.

The announcement from the Democratic Party’s top official comes as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg remained locked in a razor-close battle that is still too close to call with about 97% of precincts reporting.

At 12:37 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price issued this statement in response saying that the state party is prepared to recanvass if any presidential campaign requests such a review, stating that the party owes it to Iowa to remain focused on reviewing the first count of the results: 

“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.

"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." - Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price

“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.”

In a press release, the Iowa Democratic Party noted that they have 48 hours to respond to a "valid, written, request for recanvass, signed by the candidate." 

This story was last updated on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 4:00 p.m.