Confusion at the Iowa Caucus


Courtesy to NBC News

During the Democratic portion of the Iowa Caucus, the app shown on the smartphone in the image was used to try to efficiently collect results.

Tiana Salisbury, Photojournalist

Every other year, the Iowa Caucus takes place. This event is the first contest between candidates during election season, for both the Republican Party’s candidates and the Democratic Party’s candidates. 


The results that are collected from each party’s caucus are obtained in very different ways. For the Republican caucus, the people who wish to participate fill out a simple ballot on who they believe is the most favorable candidate, which is collected and counted for the results. The Democratic caucus, on the other hand, is much more complicated and something could easily go wrong. NBC News states that the process involves multiple rounds of participants moving around a caucus site to support a candidate. Compared to the Republican caucus, this caucus takes more time.


During the 2020 Iowa Caucus that took place on February 3, there was a problem with the app used to collect results in the Democratic caucus. Participants from previous years had complained that the process took too long, so a new app was created to make the process more efficient. At first, the app worked as it was supposed to, but then errors started to occur. 


According to the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Democratic Party blamed the problems on “coding issues”, but it is believed that the problems were also caused by the lack of training on how to use the app before the caucuses even started. This led to inaccurate results from the caucuses and now, the Democratic Party has to use its paper backups to fill in missing data and confirm the results that were collected from the app. Ashley Lee (9) reacts to this and says “the Democratic Party should have tested the app better and given more instruction on how to use it to prevent something like this from happening.” 


Days after the app malfunction, the Democratic Caucus are still not revealed. However, the New York Times states that on February 5, the most recent results show a close fight for the winner of the Democratic caucus between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans have finished their caucus. According to US News, Donald Trump won with the support of 97.1% of voters, and is followed by Bill Weld with 1.3% and Joe Walsh with 1.1%. 


The results of the Iowa Caucus are important because they have a very strong influence over the rest of the voting season. Since it is the first contest of the electoral season, the outcome usually determines who the strongest candidates will be.