Here's What Happened In Iowa Last Night and What We Know Now

Illustration for article titled Here's What Happened In Iowa Last Night and What We Know Now

DES MOINES, IOWA—After a night of technical glitches, lower-than-expected turnout and campaigns decrying the caucus process, Iowans woke up this morning without knowing who won the highly contested Iowa caucuses.


So far the app used to report results is targeted as the main culprit. Shadow Inc, which built the app at the center of last night’s drama, is connected to ACRONYM, a Democratic digital nonprofit group that is lead by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaign alumni, according to Huff Post.

The Iowa State Democratic Party said Monday that there were issues with the reporting of the results and that the verification process ensuring that the final tally is accurate is taking time.

“This is simply a reporting issue. The app did not go down, and this is not a hack or an intrusion,” a state party communications person said, according to NBC News. “The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

While party officials are not attributing the holdup of results to the app, reporting says otherwise. Party chairs across the state struggled with reporting results through the app. Oh, and the same app will be used in the Nevada caucuses.

According to the New York Times, experts say it is a bad idea to introduce technology like this so soon in such critical elections:

Matt Blaze, a professor of computer science and law at Georgetown, said that introducing apps in the midst of an election posed many problems. Any type of app or program that relies on using a cellphone network to deliver results is vulnerable to problems both on the app and on the phones being used to run it, he said.

“The consensus of all experts who have been thinking about this is unequivocal,” Mr. Blaze added. “Internet and mobile voting should not be used at this time in civil elections.”

Any technology, he said, should be tested and retested by the broader cybersecurity community before being publicly introduced, to test for anything ranging from a small bug to a major vulnerability.

“I think the most important rule of thumb in introducing technology into voting is be extremely conservative,” he said.


The drama over who and what is at fault will not be solved today. Meanwhile, there is no official winner of the Iowa caucuses.

That didn’t stop South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg from declaring victory last night for no other reason than he is an arrogant white man drunk on privilege. His campaign released a memo with internal data showing a strong performance. It would not be surprising that he won delegates, but nothing is official.


Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign struck a less victorious but still very confident tone last night. They released internal data showing that they likely won the caucus. Given that Sanders was leading in the polls here, it makes sense to feel the caucus went in his favor.

Still, we don’t know who won.

While numbers are still being tallied, the Democratic State Party projects last night’s turnout will likely match that of 2016—around 172,000 people—lower than the record-breaking turnout folks here expected.


At precinct 22, in Hyatt Middle School here in Des Moines, I watched the entire caucus process and it was pretty orderly, given how convoluted the process was. Charlie Wishman, the precinct chair, explained the process to everyone and made sure those in attendance knew what they were doing. For example, the candidate groups, basically groups of people who declared support for a candidate, that did not get 15 percent of the people in attendance had to go elsewhere or not vote for anyone at all, which happened a few times.


After roughly an hour, Bernie Sanders came out victorious at this precinct with three delegates, while Mayor Pete and Sen. Elizabeth Warren ended up with two each.


The results will not likely be announced until this evening, as verification of votes is still ongoing.

There is a lot of talk of “cover-up” and “election rigging” happening on social media, but that’s a bit far-fetched. There is much to say about the caucus process and how it needs to change to a primary system, but Shannon Kaster, a Warren precinct captain working last night, put this all in perspective.


“Even when we still cast our votes, we have the Electoral College, so it really isn’t one vote per one person,” she said. “We saw it in 2016 when we won the majority vote, but we didn’t get all of the support we needed from the Electoral College.”

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.



Shadow Inc, which built the app at the center of last night’s drama,

A name that instills confidence. I guess Murky Origins was taken.