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Iowa Democrat Responds To Caucus Reporting Inconsistencies: 'People Are Very Upset'

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Smokey Row Coffee Company in Des Moines, Iowa, where we have been broadcasting live for the Iowa caucuses. And we want to shout out all the people behind the coffee bar keeping us fueled this morning. Thank you because it was a long night with no results.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you, everyone.

Technical problems with the new reporting app used in the caucuses has caused this big delay. We now have a statement from the Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price. It says, quote, "We have every indication our systems were secure, and there was not a cybersecurity intrusion." It goes on to say there was a coding issue in the reporting system that was identified and fixed - data was not compromised. All data, according to the statement, recorded in the app was, quote, "valid and accurate." But the delay has raised even more questions about whether Iowa should keep its place as the first-in-the-nation presidential contest. We're joined now by Holly Christine Brown. She's the Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and on the line from Cedar Rapids. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

HOLLY CHRISTINE BROWN: Thank you.

MARTIN: I want to get to your broader concerns about Iowa's position in a moment, but first, just - what was your experience last night? Did you have problems?

BROWN: Well, thankfully, the actual recording in the app went fairly well for me. But I was in a rural precinct, so I was not having to use Wi-Fi. I was just on a mobile network. So that part went a little easier for me. And I finished a little earlier in the night than other caucuses did. But I do understand a lot of the concerns that people had with actually inputting the numbers because it was confusing when you got to the second part of the alignment process putting in those numbers.

MARTIN: What kind of training did you get before doing this, Holly? Did you feel prepped to operate the reporting system?

BROWN: Certainly not on the app. I was recruited to be a chair within the last week. And I got access to the app on Friday evening. And we were just given access to the app and told, you know, play around in there a little bit. And that was about as much training as we got. We were able to call in and ask questions, but there was no real training on the app.

MARTIN: So let's step back if we could. You - you're from Iowa, yet you have raised concerns even before last night's problems. You've raised concerns about Iowa being first in the nation in the presidential contests. Can you explain why and how this plays into that?

BROWN: Absolutely. So on a couple different levels, the caucuses are just not accessible for a lot of people. For individuals with disabilities, for people who work shifts, for parents - those are all...

MARTIN: It takes a long time. It's time-consuming.

BROWN: ...Places where it's hard for you to get to the caucus, and that expects the results...

MARTIN: It's also an issue with - I'm sorry to interrupt you. There's also an an issue with representation, is there not? This is a state that is more than 80% white.

BROWN: Yes, absolutely. And so what happens is because that happens, yes, what you get is a primarily white crowd showing up. These people are all economically more advantaged, and they're able to show up to the caucus.

MARTIN: Are you - is this going to exacerbate calls to change Iowa's system?

BROWN: Oh, absolutely. People are very upset about how this happened and how this played out.

MARTIN: Holly Christine Brown, the Asian/Pacific Islander caucus chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. We appreciate you sharing your experience and your perspectives this morning. Thank you so much.

BROWN: Yes, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.