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Across Iowa Technical Problems Reported With Caucus Results


We are here broadcasting live at Smokey Row coffeehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, with an audience who was up late last night waiting for results.


MARTIN: Hello. They're still here. They're still with us. We were waiting for those results from the Iowa caucus - results which we never got. Precincts across the state reported technical issues and inconsistencies, which kept Democratic Party officials from reporting. Late last night, NPR spoke with Des Moines County Democratic Party Co-Chair Tom Courtney.


TOM COURTNEY: Me and my secretary both tried to call for 45 minutes at the location. And finally, I said, after that, we're going home. I wouldn't sit in an empty cafeteria at the high school and wait to call it in. If I can't get through in a reasonable amount of time, I'll just go home.

MARTIN: Some of the frustration there about the process. Among the Iowans waiting to know which Democratic nominee won is Marjie Foster. She's the Democratic chair of Decatur County and joins us now.

Marjie, thanks for being with us. Just start off by telling us what your experience was like. How did the night play out for you?

MARJIE FOSTER: Well, for our caucus in Decatur County, we had absolutely no glitches with the app, so I was surprised to hear that when I got home. Our app process worked great. Our chair was very well-prepared. He had trained and tested, and he was on target with it. So we had no issues with the app.

MARTIN: Did you have any problems reporting your results?

FOSTER: We did not have problems reporting our results. We had one glitch that was our fault that caused us to call in. And we waited on line for about 30 minutes and then solved our own problem and hung up.

MARTIN: So what do you make of all of the ambiguity this morning?

FOSTER: Well, in all fairness, I believe that part of it had to do with caucus secretary being prepared or not prepared. Our secretary, as I said, he had trained. He had tested. He was ready to go. I know - I spoke with two caucus chairs in our county just prior to the caucus who had not done that. And that did cause some problems for them, and they are the ones in our county who were not able to report successfully quickly.

MARTIN: You said they did not do that, meaning they did not get enough training to understand the system?

FOSTER: I think that there was a lot of emphasis placed on the users being prepared, and we had to take responsibility for that preparation. The training was available to us in line - online and in person. And if we took advantage of that, then I think it was a little more seamless. For those who may not have realized that it wasn't an app you could just download and work with immediately, that might have been part of the problem, just human - not error but a lack of preparation.

MARTIN: Right. It was on them to seek out that extensive training to work it. What have you heard...


MARTIN: ...If anything - go ahead, Marjie.

FOSTER: Well, I was going to say, I don't want to make that overall determination because I don't know. But anecdotally, in our experience, it worked so well, I'm wondering if that might have been part of the problem for some folks.

MARTIN: Understood. What have you heard, if anything, from state officials this morning?

FOSTER: Well, I received a phone call at 1 a.m. because two of the - two of the caucus chairs in my county had not provided their results. I know one of them had called me late last night and said he would be bringing them by to me early this morning. I don't have them yet, but I will shortly. I have yet to reach the other person. So I think state officials are working really hard to get this solved. But I think that there's just a - there are a lot of moving parts to it.

MARTIN: Just briefly, does it shake your confidence in the system?

FOSTER: It does not, actually. The Democrats have worked really hard to implement solutions to perceived and real problems. In the end, we are going to have very accurate data. That's my interpretation of the event.

MARTIN: OK. And we're going to - we're expected to hear the final results later today. Marjie Foster, the Democratic chair of Decatur County. Marjie, thank you so much for taking the time this morning to tell us what happened from your point of view. We appreciate it.

FOSTER: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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