The dust left from the disastrous Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses is all but settled with Vt. Sen. Bernie Sanders awarded equal pledged delegates as former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.
But while the issues with the app were the main culprits behind the confusion, some problems arose that had nothing to do with Shadow’s flaws.
After the app failed to transmit caucus data, a telephone hotline system became the alternative reporting mechanism.
This too proved frustrating.
Matthew Marroquin, a caucus captain for a satellite precinct in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista county, explained:
“The website wasn’t working, so we had to go to this hotline, where we had to wait, like, an hour to get anybody on the other line. And when we did, we got people on the other side who were breaking down crying. The whole thing took forever.”
The hotline holdup, however, was not entirely due to mismanagement.
Trump supporters got a hold of the hotline number and flooded it with “an unusually high volume, ” according to Mandy McClure, Iowa Democratic party communications director.
Committee member Ken Sagar said the disruption was deliberate.
The number apparently went public after caucus paperwork pictures were posted online, particularly on the alt-right fringe internet message board 4chan.
University of California at Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen warned that evidence of a coordinated attempt to circumvent the hotline’s reporting “could well be a crime”.
He admitted as much when he stated during an ABC News interview:
“If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent’ – oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
One of the counts against Trump upon which he was impeached in the House of Representatives in December is abuse of power, “exercising the power of his public office to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the public interest.”
Special Council Robert Mueller, in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, confirmed the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency conducted “disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.”
But it is not fair to place all the blame on Trump.
The Republican party has not legitimately won the White House since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s.
From foreign trolls and bots, Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, right-wing hate radio, dog-whistle (and not-so-dog-whistle) racism, mendacious Facebook ads, and Donald Trump’s thousands of lies, the Republican party has its machine’s gears well-oiled.
We have turned a dangerous corner.
Since Trump has signaled to his army of ardent adherents cheating is just how to do business in America from now on, they are going to help him accomplish it.
This latest example from Iowa may be an anomaly now, but it won’t be going forward.
If we remain ignorant to how disruptive Trump trolls can be to our sacrosanct electoral process, we can give up hope of preserving it.
From now on, we need to expect infiltrators in our elections, rallies, social media feeds, news headlines, and political assemblies–and beat them to the proverbial punch.
Failing to do so will be to our detriment.
This is America now.
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