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Iowa Democrats have found a new villain for their chaotic caucus on Monday (and every other day this week), and surprise: It’s not untested technology or slapstick incompetence.
On a Wednesday night conference call, Iowa AFL-CIO president and state committee member Ken Sagar reportedly told leaders of the party that while he was helping answer the hotline for precinct chairs to report their numbers, the line became jammed with supporters of President Donald Trump calling in, according to two people on the call who spoke to Bloomberg.
Additionally, Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price reportedly told officials on a Wednesday night call that the backup phone lines crashed after “internet trolls” got ahold of the number and flooded the lines, according to someone on the call who spoke to CNN.
One of the people on the call reportedly said that the number became public after it was posted online in photos of caucus paperwork, but a number for a “caucus hotline” has been posted on the Iowa Democratic Party’s official website since the night of the caucus, according to the Wayback Machine.
“On Caucus Day, the Iowa Democratic Party experienced an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its Caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump," the Iowa Democratic Party's Communications Director Mandy McClure said. “The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results, but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported.”
The hotline was already overwhelmed after widespread problems with an app created by Shadow Inc., which was commissioned by the party to report results. Many precinct chairs abandoned the app and chose to call in, which overwhelmed the lines and caused delays of over an hour for some chairs, like Shawn Sebastian.
Scott County Democratic Party chair Elesha Gayman also told VICE News earlier this week that staffers in her office were up until 3 a.m. sorting paper ballots, which a state party staffer drove three hours to pick up on Tuesday.
The Trump campaign denied orchestrating a campaign to mess with the reporting of the results, but had a laugh at the expense of the party’s technological woes. “Don’t know anything about that, but maybe Democrats should consider using an app of some kind next time,” Trump spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told Bloomberg in a text message.
On top of the fallout from Monday, results the party reported on Wednesday were “riddled with inconsistencies and flaws,” according to the New York Times.
“As you know, this has been a challenging few days for our team and our state party,” Price told state party officials in a Tuesday night email, according to Bloomberg. “Media accounts tell part of the story — technical issues and new reporting requirements caused delays and confusion. What received less attention by the media, was the deliberative and cross-functional approach we brought to preparing for and solving these challenges.”
As of Thursday morning, the final results of the Monday caucus still hadn’t been made public.
Cover image: Donald trump troll. NOTE SEXUAL CONTENT IN PHOTO An imported Donald trump troll at the which has been causing a stir on sale at the Balla Ban gallery in Dublin. (Press Association via AP Images)