Democratic National Committee officials have rejected proposals from Iowa and Nevada to hold virtual caucuses in 2020, citing cybersecurity concerns.
“We concur with the advice of the DNC’s security experts that there is no tele-caucus system available that meets our standard of security and reliability given the scale needed for the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the current cyber-security climate,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez and co-chairs said in a statement.
Both Iowa and Nevada proposed allowing voters to caucus remotely via phone, in response to criticism that the current caucus system, which requires in-person voting and can be an hourslong process, is inaccessible to many residents in both states.
The DNC has said each state must devise plans to make their caucuses more accessible, and the committee will reportedly implement each state’s plan on Sept. 13. Some in Iowa have expressed concern that failing to meet the deadline could jeopardize Iowa’s status as the first state to host a presidential caucus in 2020.
“We know that the Iowa Caucuses on February 3rd and Nevada Caucuses on February 22nd will be their most successful yet,” Perez said.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price echoed that sentiment in a press conference responding to the DNC’s decision, emphasizing that “We will be first.”
Nevada Democratic Chairman William McCurdy II said his party still intends to host four days of in-person early voting to allow Nevadans “additional opportunities to participate in an important process that will have lasting effects on our country.”
The DNC’s decision to reject Iowa and Nevada’s virtual caucus plans has incited debate about how to make elections more accessible while maintaining their security.
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro posted a video to Twitter criticizing the DNC’s decision, urging the committee to find ways to make voting easier:
The DNC has disallowed plans to increase participation in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.I strongly urge the DNC to embrace our party's values and allow absentee voting, either through a virtual caucus, mail-in, or early voting process. pic.twitter.com/V85BIJtq4v
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 30, 2019
In a press conference at Iowa DNC headquarters, former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who represented Iowa for 30 years in Congress, said the fault for today’s decision rests with the federal government for not adequately securing U.S. elections.
“It’s not the fault of the DNC or the Iowa Democratic Party,” he said. “The federal government hasn’t done anything to really build a cyber-secure system in America.”