Iowa Caucus Results: Inconsistencies & Math Errors Raise Calls to Recanvass


Inconsistencies, errors in rounding, and other issues were reported with the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus results over the last few days. In some cases, errors weren’t spotted or fixed until people on Twitter pointed them out the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP.) Voters joined together to crowdsource the results, finding inconsistencies that the IDP needed to fix and raising questions about what errors haven’t been found yet. All of this has led Tom Perez, chair of the DNC, to call for the results to be recanvassed. Whether a recount will happen or not still remains to be seen.

It’s possible the IDP may not certify the results until next week, if delays continue.

Now Tom Perez, the DNC chair, has called for the Iowa Democratic Party to recanvass the results in light of the errors. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

CNN is reporting that he called for this recanvass because of how SDEs were being allocated at satellite sites, according to unnamed sources. Precinct sources have said online and to Heavy that many satellite locations were favoring Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders pointed out in a press conference that the SDE number, which is still being determined, is not as important anymore as it was in the past due to changes in the DNC rules. He said, in part: “These State delegate equivalents have greatly diminished importance… As it stands right now to the best of my knowledge, either me or Mr. Buttigieg will end with a tiny fraction of advantage in the SDEs… Given the main precincts’ outstanding and mathematical errors, we could well end up with more SDEs. But this difference…is meaningless because we are both likely to receive the same number of national delegates… Those actual delegates, not the state delegates, are the ones we need now in the nominating process.”

Here’s a look at some of the inconsistencies and math errors found and what we know so far.

Here’s a List of Some of the Inconsistencies & Math Errors Pointed Out Online

Shortly after Iowa Democrats tweeted about correcting and adding results, the IDP got some corrections of their own.

Twitter user @PhilJamesson tweeted screenshots of the spreadsheets and wrote: “hey, looks like you accidentally swapped deval patrick’s (left) and bernie’s (right) columns in the rows between WL 3-4 and WL 4-2. you also switched tom steyer and elizabeth warren’s results for the same rows. looking forward to a speedy fix.”

Phil also wrote: “uh oh haha spotted another one in row WL 4-6 but that’s also an easy fix.” And later: “oh dear another one in WALNUT / GRIMES / GRANT. should probably just check all the data for this specific mistake.”

He later said that the IDP had fixed the errors he found, but he wasn’t going to continue searching the chart for mistakes. And he added the following.

He wrote: “people are asking me where to report discrepancies. i don’t really know. i’m an entertainer and i found a glaringly obvious data error and sent them an @ reply. i can’t imagine that’s protocol but it worked! and yes, i do find that distressing!”

Other people noticed some strange discrepancies when Bernie Sanders appeared to have the most votes on a second expression vote, but Pete Buttigieg was awarded more delegates.


Here’s another example. Daniel Nichanian of The Appeal noted that Sanders should have two delegates also, based on the math for converting SDW to county delegates. He wrote: “The Dem Party has still not corrected this error. it should add 0.2798 to Sanders’s SDE total once it’s corrected. (might seem small, but that’s 8% of Buttigieg’s current SDE lead).”

While Sanders was within three delegates of Buttigieg and there were just 53 or so precincts left to report, the Iowa Democratic Party said on Wednesday night that they weren’t releasing any more results until the next day. This created a lot of theories and conjectures on Twitter regarding the delay.

Daniel Clark, a precinct captain for Bernie Sanders in Iowa who is also now a county delegate for Iowa, has been following the errors closely and noting when IDP needed to correct something. He told Heavy: “I think that what this shows is that Bernie Sanders and those of us in his grassroots organization are not to be taken lightly. Many of us started this journey in 2015 and we have been here all along. We have the momentum and we are on the path to victory. Like Nina Turner says, he may be 78 but we are about to make him 46.” 

People also noticed rounding errors, which you can see an example of in the tweet below. Twitter user @Jhobfoll wrote: “Precinct #07 – Woodbine Reported: Bernie 3/Pete 2/Joe 2/Warren 1 pre-rounded: Bernie 2.37/Pete 2.37/joe 1.78/Warren 1.48 After rounding 1 del left & Warren should’ve gotten it because had highest decimal <0.5 New: Bernie2/Pete2/Joe2/Warren2 Bernie -1(-0.0933 SDE) (2/3).”

In fact, this entire Twitter thread below shows a lot of math errors discovered by people besides the Iowa Democratic Party that might give Sanders a higher SDE if the errors are confirmed.

Black Hawk County’s results also were questioned. Chris Schwartz, the Black Hawk County Supervisor, shared the results of the first expression on Twitter. It showed Sanders having 2,149 votes. The final expression on the IDP’s page showed 2,125 votes for Sanders. It’s unclear why Sanders’ final vote count was lower than his initial count, and many are waiting on clarification about this. However, others have questioned the initial results, so the exact error is still being determined. Heavy has reached out to Schwartz for comment.

Others said that reports about Polk County were reported wrong, noting that Sanders had won two delegates, but one of those was given to Warren.

There were also questions about precincts where Sanders was viable in the first round but not viable in the second.

At least one of the precincts not yet reported by the IDP when they released 97 percent of the results on Wednesday night said they had turned in their numbers and it showed a Sanders win.

And then there were coin toss moments like this one shared by a BBC reporter on Twitter. Anthony Zurcher noted that the man who flipped the coin was a Florida student who was picked as an “impartial observer.” He said he was nervous and caught the coin between his fingers.

Some people are also disagreeing with an assertion that the errors originated from caucus precinct chairs.

On top of all of this, there were also reports that Trump supporters inundated an Iowa precinct hotline with calls, increasing delays the night of the caucus, Bloomberg reported.

The New York Times reported that more than 100 precincts had “internally inconsistent” results with missing data or where vote tallies didn’t add up. The Times also said the errors had no bias in favor of a particular candidate, but would raise questions about the final results and their validity.

Some of the errors were fixed, but only after they were pointed out. Had the IDP not been transparent with spreadsheets revealing the tallies, these errors might have never been caught.

This whole issue also raises a lot of questions about past Iowa caucus results, like in 2016 when Sanders and Clinton were virtually tied.