WASHINGTON (Reuters) —Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Thursday called for a recanvass of the Iowa caucuses after an array of problems delayed results from the party’s first 2020 presidential nominating contest and created uncertainty about their accuracy.
“Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass,” Perez said in a Twitter post.
“A recanvass is a review of the worksheets from each caucus site to ensure accuracy. The IDP will continue to report results,” he added in a followup tweet.
Perez does not have the authority to order a recanvass unilaterally, and Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price denied Perez’s request.
According to Price, the state’s party will only recanvass at the request of a presidential campaign.
“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, he said later Thursday.
“This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans.”
No winner has been declared in the Iowa caucuses four days after they took place in 1,600 locations throughout Iowa on Monday night. With 97 percent of precincts counted, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, has 26.1 percent of state delegate equivalents and Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had 26.2 percent, according to the Iowa Democratic Party.
It was not clear when the rest of the results would be released and the troubled process has clouded the Democrats’ efforts to find a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in November.
Blame Trump supporters?
The delay was initially attributed to a technical problem with a new mobile app, but other concerns have emerged.
The Iowa Democratic Party received an “unusually high volume of inbound calls” to its caucus hotline on Monday night from “callers who would hang up immediately after being connected, supporters of President Trump who called to express their displeasure with the Democratic Party and Iowans looking to confirm details,” a party official confirmed on Thursday.
Party staff worked to flag and block repeat callers who appeared to be attempting to jam the lines and interfere with the reporting of caucus results, and the call volume was “highly irregular” compared to previous caucuses, the official said.
An analysis of the vote counts has found they are still riddled with mistakes and inaccuracies. More than 100 precincts reported results on Wednesday that were “internally inconsistent,” missing data or not possible under the Iowa caucus’ rules, according to a New York Times analysis published Thursday.
According to The Times, the errors suggested the state’s caucus leaders struggled to follow caucus rules or adopt additional reporting requirements introduced since 2016 and that the Iowa Democratic Party failed to validate the results before making them public.
Members of The Times’ statistical analysis team discovered circumstances in which votes didn’t add up, while in other cases precincts were shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to candidates.
Meanwhile, the analysis found discrepancies between the results reported by the Iowa Democratic Party and those reported by some precincts.
The Times’ team saw no evidence that the errors were biased in favor of a particular candidate.
However, the closeness of the race means even minor mistakes could cast a pall of doubt over the results.
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party told The Times that the party reported the results given to it by the precincts.
The uncertainty enraged Democrats worried it would only strengthen President Donald Trump’s bid for re-election and prompted some Democratic candidates’ campaigns to question whether the results would be legitimate.
“As leader of the party I apologize deeply for this,” Price told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ve been working day and night to make sure these results are accurate.”
(Reporting by Amanda Becker and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot; Pluralist contributed to this report.)