DNC to recommend scrapping virtual caucus plans in Iowa and Nevada

DNC Will Recommend Against Virtual Caucus Plans Due To Security Concerns

DNC Will Recommend Against Virtual Caucus Plans Due To Security Concerns

Virtual caucuses were proposed by Iowa and Nevada, the two early states with caucuses rather than primaries, as a way to be more accessible to participants.

Julian Castro was the first presidential hopeful to weigh in on the DNC's announcement, calling it a "decision to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters, and decrease turnout by up to a third, in the first-in-the-nation caucus state" that amounts to "an affront to the principles of democracy". Iowa's proposal would allow people to cast their vote via phone at one of six virtual caucuses, while Nevada planned two days of virtual voting. During a recent test, it was determined the system was vulnerable to hacking.

The Democratic National Committee will recommend that the state plans for virtual, telephone-based caucuses for Iowa and Nevada should be dropped over concerns about election security, the Associated Press reported. The "virtual caucuses" concept was meant to mitigate that concern.

Each U.S. state party hosts its own nominating contests ahead of the U.S. election, with Iowa's caucuses the first in the nation and Nevada's caucus occurring soon afterward.

That powerful committee, which must approve all states' primary and caucus plans, still must meet in the coming weeks to make the final decision, but Friday's statement makes clear that meeting will be a formality.

She said more efforts will be made to boost participation in the Democratic state caucuses.

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The DNC released a memo from their security team that said, "Based on our review process and the recommendation of security experts, we have concluded that now, there is no tele-caucus system available that is sufficiently secure and reliable, given the magnitude and timing of the Iowa and Nevada caucuses this cycle".

The rules and bylaws committee received a closed-door briefing from security experts last week at the summer meeting in San Francisco and heard major concerns about the ability of hackers to compromise the existing technology for a virtual caucus. Earlier this month, a security expert had discovered a vulnerability on the website of a potential virtual caucus vendor being considered.

The decision leaves the Iowa and Nevada state parties in limbo, without clarity on how they'll meet the national party's requirements to expand access to the caucuses.

Democrats focused on election security after the 2016 presidential race, when Russian intelligence officers hacked computers linked to the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign, stole data, and staged releases of documents from the trove.

Law enforcement agencies have warned that US election systems are vulnerable for interference ahead of the 2020 vote as well.

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