DNC blocks virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada

Committee cites cybersecurity concerns as reason not to go forward with plan

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez speaks during an interview with radio station WHO at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic National Committee formally decided Friday not to move forward with virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada amid cybersecurity concerns.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee agreed by voice vote to adopt the recommendation from DNC Chairman Tom Perez that the virtual caucuses should not take place since they would not be secure or reliable. Both states had devised plans to allow people to participate in the caucuses by phone to fulfill a DNC requirement that states provide an absentee voting option.

The virtual caucus had been an effort to expand access to the caucus process as Democrats choose their nominee to take on President Donald Trump. While Nevada had developed an early voting option which could satisfy the absentee voting requirement, Iowans on the committee's call Friday said they were working to develop a new plan.

“We are, over the last week and continuing today and the days ahead, continuing to look at what options may be available to us given the time that is left,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said.

Iowa’s caucuses are set to take place in less than five months on Feb. 3, while Nevada’s will take place Feb. 22.

Artie Blanco, a DNC committee member from Nevada, noted that both states made significant progress on their plans without guidance from the DNC or the rules and bylaws committee.

“It is impossible to find a technology secure enough for a virtual caucus to protect against a hacking attempt,” Blanco said. She also later reminded committee members how to correctly pronounce Nevada.

The virtual caucus plans had been lauded by state leaders for expanding voters’ access in the nominating process. Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had expressed confidence in a July interview that come caucus time the party would “have all the kinks worked out” for the virtual caucus.

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