Graphic via Shutterstock/Courier
Graphic via Shutterstock/Courier

DNC Chairman Tom Perez calls for closer scrutiny of Iowa Democratic Caucus results

If you thought the caucus chaos in Iowa was nearing an end, think again. Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez on Thursday threw another twist into the controversy surrounding Iowa’s Democratic Caucus, calling for a “recanvass” of the results.

“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 wrote on Twitter.

Confused Twitter users immediately began speculating as to what a recanvass was, prompting Perez to clarify.

“A recanvass is a review of the worksheets from each caucus site to ensure accuracy,” Perez wrote minutes after his initial tweet. 

Axios reported that according to the DNC’s rules, a recanvass is “a hand audit of Caucus Math Worksheets and Reporting Forms to ensure that they were tallied and reported in the telephone intake sheets and caucus reporting application correctly.”

Importantly, it is not a do-over of the caucus.

In a statement released shortly after Perez’s tweet, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price did not directly address the DNC chairman’s request and seemed to indicate Perez couldn’t even request a recanvass. Instead, Price said the party was prepared “should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection plan request a recanvass.”

In other words, the state party wants to finish tabulating its results and wait for the presidential campaigns to respond, instead of taking orders from the national party.

A manual outlining the state delegate selection process for the Iowa Democratic party says individual campaigns can request a recanvass of results by sending Price a letter by noon Friday. 

“Requests for recanvass must include the scope of the desired recanvass, a thorough description of the challenge, and an explanation about how the national delegation could be altered as a result of the problem or its correction,” the manual says.

A committee would then validate the requests, according to the manual, and include the cost “assessed to the candidate in order to complete the recanvass.”

Perez’s call for a recanvass comes as former Mayor of South Bend, Ind. Pete Buttigieg holds a narrow lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) in the total number of “state delegate equivalents” (SDEs)—the metric used to determine the winner—with 97 percent of precincts reporting.

Buttigieg currently has 550 SDEs while Sanders has 547. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is a distant third with 381. 

The potential recount also comes after three days of complete chaos caused by an app that did not report caucus data correctly, a failure in the Iowa Democratic Party’s back-up reporting plan, misreporting of data by the IDP, and more than 100 precinct-level data collection or reporting errors committed by caucus leaders. [Editor’s note: The progressive non-profit organization ACRONYM is an investor in Shadow, the company behind the app. ACRONYM is also an investor in Courier Newsroom.)

CNN reported that the state party did not receive advance warning about Perez’s demand. According to CNN reporter Jezz Zeleny, Perez also failed to mention the DNC has been overseeing the reporting process for the last 48 hours.

Perez’s request is also likely to infuriate supporters of candidates across the spectrum, particularly Bernie Sanders supporters, given Sanders’ late surge after additional results were reported on Wednesday evening. Many Sanders supporters have long questioned the impartiality of the DNC and accused the organization of trying to prevent a Sanders nomination—a theory that is once again finding new life on social media on Thursday afternoon. 

As for Sanders himself, he responded to Perez’s request by pointing to the results of the caucus’ first alignment voting numbers. 

“We won an 8-person election by some 6,000 votes,” Sanders told reporters. “That is not going to change.” 

Sanders also leads the second and final alignment voting tally by some 2,500 votes.