Internet Security Concerns Prompt The DNC to Reject Telephone Caucuses

Yesterday, concerns about security reportedly prompted the Democratic National Committee (“the DNC”) to indicate it would reject efforts by party organizers in two states to conduct caucuses that would allow some participants to contribute by telephone. The decision reflects the importance of safeguarding the integrity of the vote in the United States during the upcoming national election in 2020. At least one presidential candidate expressed disappointment with the decision. However, some law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns about the ability of authorities to prevent the hacking of telephone lines.

Two States Impacted by The DNC Decision

Democrats in Iowa and Nevada plan to conduct caucuses next year to help select people to attend the national convention to select their party’s presidential nominee. While political parties in most states invite voters to visit polling places and cast ballots during the primary, in some states Democrats utilizes a more time-consuming caucus system instead. In these states, Party members meet with one another in designated locations and discuss the candidates and the issues in order to help select delegates to attend the national convention. Party organizers in Iowa and Nevada had hoped to expand public participation in their state party caucuses by accepting telephone input from supporters who could not attend a local caucus in person.

A Significant Party Rule Change

In an effort to increase voter turnout during the primaries, the DNC approved a new set of rules last year that urged states to move away from caucuses towards conducting balloting during the primaries. Democrats in several states opted to change their system for selecting participants to attend the Democratic National Convention. Maine, Utah, Colorado, and Minnesota reportedly decided to conduct primary election polling instead of holding caucuses for this purpose.

Additional Primary Options?

Democrats during recent months have frequently stood in the forefront of Americans concerned about Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election. Democrats in Iowa had hoped to expand public participation in their primary caucuses by allowing participation in a “virtual” caucus. It would include telephone participation. The DNC’s rejection of this format on security grounds would require Party leaders in both Nevada and Iowa to consider alternative arrangements for selecting delegates to the national party convention. In Nevada, Democrats benefit from provisions that permit alternative early in-person primary voting. Unfortunately, Democrats in Iowa reportedly did not include this option.


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