On Tuesday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn introduced the DEBACLE Act: a new piece of legislation designed to investigate the “failures and total system breakdown” of the messy Iowa Caucus that took place last week on Monday, Feb. 3.
What is the Iowa Caucus?
The Iowa Caucus is the state of Iowa’s version of a primary election, where voters decide who they would like to see represent their respective political party. Unlike a standard primary election where voters cast their ballots one by one, a caucus sees residents gather in schools, churches, or even people’s homes and mark their candidate of choice by standing on a particular side of the caucus site. Multiple rounds are held, with those who chose a candidate that received less than 15% of the vote at that particular site able to select a different candidate during a second round. For more on how the Iowa Caucus works, click here.
What happened at this year’s Iowa Caucus?
Last week, the results of the caucus were delayed multiple times. While the full results of the Iowa Caucus are typically released within a few hours of the polls closing, the Iowa Democratic State Party didn’t release results until the next day, with those results only showing 62% of the total vote - a decision that has come under intense scrutiny, with some alleging that the release of only a portion of the results gave an unfair advantage to certain candidates leading into the New Hampshire Primary.
Four days after the Iowa Caucus on Thursday, Feb. 6, Iowa Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perrez called for recanvass of the Iowa Caucus results, giving no indication as to when official results may be released. Furthermore, results of the Iowa Caucus so far appear to be riddled with errors, with certain precincts reporting outright false results when compared to election and campaign staff’s accounts of particular precincts. Those errors are also not likely to be corrected either, with leaked internal emails from the Iowa Democratic State Party stating that “the incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed to ensure the integrity of the process.”
Blackburn’s reasoning for the DEBACLE Act
Given the severity of the blunders from the Iowa Democratic State Party in compromising the integrity of its election, Blackburn found it necessary to launch an investigation into the process - something she hopes to achieve with the new DEBACLE Act.
“We have heard from so many people about election security [and] ballot security,” Blackburn said. “What we're doing with the DEBACLE Act is having the GAO (Government Accountability Office) look at what happened in Iowa. People want to make certain that this is not going to happen again.”
Going further, Blackburn specifically called out the Iowa Democratic State Party for declining an offer from the Department of Homeland Security to vet the app used to tabulate votes ahead of the Iowa Caucus.
“The Iowa Democratic Party refused to help the Department of Homeland Security in running a test on their system, and as you see, in Iowa they still have not certified the winner of their caucuses,” Blackburn said. “So we want to make certain this does not happen [again].”