Iowa Democrats “Not Worried” Amidst DNC Concerns with Virtual Caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Democratic National Committee is voicing concerns over virtual caucusing, which could potentially overturn months of preparation by Iowa Democrats to make the caucuses more accessible.

According to Bloomberg,  internal experts were able to hack into a committee conference call with the Iowa and Nevada Democratic Parties at a DNC Rules and By-Laws Committee session Thursday. This raised concerns for members about call-in voting for the caucuses.

Bill Brauch, a party activist, said Iowa Democrats have spent a lot of time planning virtual caucuses, so he questions why the DNC is just now raising concerns.

"Yes, there are some concerns at the DNC about the ability to hack, but they haven't really tested that yet but it's something our party, and the other states that do caucuses and are considering, are looking carefully at," Brauch said.

The idea of offering an alternate way to caucus is so those who might be unable to physically attend can still participate. State Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Polk County, said it will make the caucuses more accessible to shift-workers, the elderly, people who are disabled and others who have difficulty attending.

Some are suggesting Iowa switches to a primary and completely drops the virtual caucus idea.

But Petersen said Iowans want to maintain the caucus tradition.

"I think Democrats and Republicans agree on the importance of the Iowa caucuses and making sure they're successful," she said.

Back in the first week of the fair, DNC chair Tom Perez talked with Channel 13's political director Dave Price, and didn't voice any concern when asked about the virtual caucuses.

"I think we'll make it work. I know we've got some more work to do, but I'm confident it will work," Perez said.

Brauch said those kinks in the system are what they're working out right now. He said Iowa Democrats are working with different vendors to see which system is the most secure. The details too are being worked out, but he said the general concept is Democrats who want to "virtually" caucus will have to register in advance. They will then dial in to a number during one of the six time slots and enter in secure information before ranking their top candidates.

"It's not at all likely that somebody can get through this multi-layered security and break in and cast a false ballot shall we say," Brauch said.

Both Brauch and Petersen said ultimately the pros outweigh the cons.

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