On the night of the Iowa caucus, Democratic leaders ran into major difficulties trying to collect results that ultimately led to the final results not being available for several days.
Now, at least one reason behind that delay has come out; supporters of Donald Trump purposely clogged a hotline set up for reporting results.
As Bloomberg reported, a number of people called the results hotline and expressed their support for the president. Someone had posted photos online of the caucus paperwork that included the number for reporting results, prompting a number of Trump-supporting trolls to call and purposely clog the lines.
This added to delays caused by problems in an app meant to collect voting results from each of the caucus locations. State Democratic Party leaders said that a coding error prevented the collection of numbers, though insisted that there was nothing wrong with the results themselves. They noted that the prank calls from Trump supporters also did not affect the integrity of the election.
"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 Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement.
The final voting for the Iowa caucus was still not complete by Thursday afternoon, though the counting had reached up to 97 percent and showed that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg were in a virtual tie.The Trump campaign denied any knowledge of the prank calls, but did take the chance to push blame back on Democrats.
"Democrats are engulfed in the worst election embarrassment in modern history and they're looking for someone to blame. It's pathetic," said Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh.
There could be more overt efforts ahead by Republicans to affect the outcome of the Democratic primary. As the The Post and Courier reported, a group of prominent South Carolina Republicans are launching an effort to encourage Republican voters to show up for the Democratic primary there on February 29 and vote for Sanders. The report noted that they see Sanders as the weakest general election threat to Trump and want to press state Democrats into closing their primaries to voters from other parties.
"Bernie Sanders is the most socialistic, liberal candidate running in the Democratic presidential preference primary," Greenville GOP chairman Nate Leupp told The Post and Courier. "So we feel we can make a strong point that our Democratic state legislators need to help work to close our primaries so it protects them as well as the Republican brand."