Iowa Dems say reporting inconsistencies, not hack, caused delays in caucus results

The Iowa Democratic Party late Monday night said reporting discrepancies, not a hack, were responsible for delays in reporting results from the Iowa caucus. 

“This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion,” Mandy McClure, communications director for the Iowa Democractic Party, said in a statement.  ”The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

As the clock ticked toward midnight, the results still weren’t in, agitating voters, the various campaigns and even GOP operatives like Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscales, who tweeted “Quality control = rigged?”

“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” said McClure. ”In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report.”

The state party had rolled out an app that was supposed to aid precincts in reporting for the first time three sets of results - first choice votes, final alignment after second choice votes and the number of delegates each candidate wins. But the process turned out to be far from seamless, with many precincts not able to download the app on personal mobile phones as they'd be instructed to do or even report results by phone in a timely fashion. 

"The app that was intended to relay Caucus results to the Party failed; the Party's back-up telephone reporting system likewise failed," Dana Demus, a lawyer for candidate Joe Biden, wrote in a letter to the state party’s leadership. “Now we understand that the Caucus Chairs are attempting to — and, in many cases, failing to — report results telephonically to the Party."

Earlier in the day, Tim Mackey, principal security strategist at Synopsis CyRC, had noted that “voting in any form by way of an application has inherent risks,” and raises the specter of both security and privacy concerns. 

“In the context of the Iowa caucuses, the use of an app is an attempt to better account for the challenges of how the caucuses operate,” he said. ”Their process has an intrinsic review mechanism in the reality that the opinions of caucus goers are readily identifiable. In other words, a backup mechanism using paper processes as might’ve been in place twenty years ago will address issues of auditing electoral results.”

But the backup procedures don’t “address any security concerns over data transmission to third parties and other data protection concerns, and could lead to doubts about the accuracy of results should the digital record and the backup record deviate,” Mackey said. 

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