Remember the Iowa Dem Caucus Disaster? Here’s How It Happened

The foul-ups that marred the Iowa caucuses in February were largely the fault of the Democratic National Committee, according to a new report.

Because of a wide variety of technological errors, the first-in-the-nation

Democratic caucuses became a subject of ridicule when the winner could not be determined on the night of the caucuses due to malfunctions in the app designed to report the results, which triggered further problems such as overloaded phone systems as officials tried to use the back-up system to report the results.

The report, which was shared with Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee Saturday, also blames the technology company that built the app that failed, according to Politico, which obtained a copy.

The report states the process started to go off track when the DNC asked Shadow, the technology company that built the app, to adapt the app by creating a conversion tool so that the DNC could have access to the raw numbers as they were being reported, according to Politico.

However, the app and the DNC used different systems, which led to problems.

“Attempting to graft an entirely new software element onto the back-end reporting system at the proverbial eleventh hour is likely always going to be problematic, and it was ultimately the cause of a major problem on caucus night,” the report said, according to Politico.  “Furthermore, the [Iowa Democratic Party] was not involved in the development of this tool. The IDP simply permitted the DNC to direct the IDP’s vendor.”

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Coding errors in the conversion tool led to inaccurate results, the report found.

“When the DNC’s database conversion tool failed to work correctly, it caused the DNC to wrongly stop the IDP from reporting its results, and the IDP’s entire planned reporting process was thrown into disarray,” the report said, according to Politico.

“The DNC’s interjection was the catalyst for the resulting chaos in the boiler room and in the IDP’s attempts to manually collect and confirm caucus results by hand. If the DNC had not interjected itself into the results reporting process based on its erroneous data conversion, caucus night could conceivably have proceeded according to the IDP’s initial plan,” the report said.

The Hill also obtained a copy of the report on the review, which was conducted by former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, a former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party,  and Faegre Drinker, a law firm.

State Democratic Party staffers, employees of the technology company and representatives of several campaigns were interviewed.

Accordign to The Hill, the report said that the DNC-demanded tool “was not necessary for the reporting app to function or for the reporting app to work with any of the IDP’s systems.”


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