Virtual Iowa caucus may not happen

Henrietta Brewer
September 2, 2019

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price released the following statement in response to the DNC and RBC chairs' recommendation not to approve Iowa's virtual caucus plan.

Democratic officials will block plans to allow caucus-goers to vote by phone in Iowa and Nevada next year because of concerns the technology could be hacked, according to three Democrats familiar with the plans.

The Democratic party has told states either to hold primaries or to allow more participation in their caucuses. The virtual plans were made to open up caucus voting to more people, but DNC leadership is reportedly concerned that the technology won't protect against potential hacking. "They either need to make sure that they figure out a secure virtual caucus process or, alternatively, allow another form of absentee voting".

Judy Downs, Executive Director of Polk County Democrats, thinks there are major challenges when implementing a new system.

The Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement that it would seek alternatives to increase access to the caucus.

"There is no tele-caucus system available that meets our standard of security and reliability given the scale needed for the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the current cybersecurity climate", DNC Chairman Tom Perez and the co-chairs of the DNC's Rules and By-Laws Committee said after its security experts examined the states' proposals and weighed broader cyber threats.

National party leaders, including Perez, have praised state parties for their efforts to expand participation, especially among those who work evenings or have disabilities. Golford was skeptical the virtual caucuses would get more people to participate.

Commentary: In true Democratic fashion, the DNC has killed off plans in the works in Iowa and Nevada to install tele-caucus systems that will increase participation in the presidential nomination process next year. Caucus states historically have very low turnout for events that require in-person voting at local meetings around the state. "In complying with this requirement, NV Dems published-in March of 2019-a uniquely Nevada Delegate Selection Plan that reflects our voters and the communities we live in", McCurdy said. The party already is sensitive to hacking after Russian operatives infiltrated DNC servers during the 2016 election campaign, and Democrats say they could not abide having the Iowa and Nevada results delegitimized after the fact. The events are lengthy and held in winter, making it hard for people to attend, so both states had introduced plans to let some voters participate over the phone in a "virtual caucus". "We are confident that this will be resolved in the coming weeks".

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