If any 2020 candidate wants Iowa to recalculate caucus results, they have until noon Monday

Carl Voss, Des Moines city councilman and a precinct chair, carries a caucus results packet Feb. 4 outside Iowa Democratic Party headquarters.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Three days after technical issues derailed the timely release of the Iowa Democratic caucus results, the leader of the Democratic Party called for officials to recalculate the vote totals sent to the state.

Seeking to ensure public confidence in the results, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a tweet on Thursday that a recanvass of Monday’s Iowa caucuses was needed.

But what is Perez asking for, and what can state officials do?

First, under Iowa Democratic Party rules, Perez can’t require that results be recalculated. Presidential campaigns had until noon Friday to make a request, but the party extended the deadline to Monday. The party also said campaigns have until noon Saturday to submit evidence of tabulation errors. It was not immediately clear whether any planned to do so.

When it comes to the caucuses, a “recanvass” differs from a “recount.” A recount would look at each presidential preference card filled out by caucusgoers. A recanvass looks at the worksheets that were sent to the state party compiled by the managers of the 1,756 caucus precincts.


As Democratic Party officials launch into a recount of the Iowa caucus results, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders declared himself the victor.

Feb. 6, 2020

The precinct worksheets give totals for the first round of voting and totals for the second round of voting, after candidates who got less than 15% in the first round are eliminated, as well as allocation of state delegates to each candidate based on the final round of voting.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price can determine whether to grant a recanvass based on the case made in the request by the campaign. The state party has 48 hours to respond with a timeline of when a potential recanvass would take place, as well as how much the party would charge the campaign making the request.

Here’s the process to request a recanvass, and how it would work per Iowa’s state delegate plan from September:

  • Any presidential candidate may request a precinct-level review, or a recanvass of district or state results, by submitting a request in writing to the Iowa Democratic Party chair.
  • This request must come no later than Monday at noon.
  • Requests for a precinct-level review must include the name of the county or counties, the precinct(s), and a credible explanation describing the reason for the request.
  • Requests for a recanvass must include the scope, a description of the challenge and an explanation about how the national delegation could be altered as a result of the problem or its correction.
  • The state party will respond to a request for precinct-level review or recanvass within 48 hours of receipt.
  • The response will include an anticipated timeline and a cost estimate for the review, which would be paid by the campaign.
  • The state central committee will certify caucus results no later than Feb. 29.

John is a special correspondent.