Democratic National Committee
August 30, 2019

DNC Chair Tom Perez and the Co-Chairs of the Rules and Bylaws Committee on Caucus Security

Today, the DNC technology and security teams, after completing a review process and in consultation with independent experts, provided their recommendation to DNC Chair Tom Perez and the DNC’s Rules and By-laws Committee regarding the proposed delegate selection plans from the Iowa and Nevada Democratic Parties. A memo outlining the recommendation is available here

In response, DNC Chair Tom Perez and Rules and By-Laws Committee Co-Chairs Lorraine Miller and Jim Roosevelt issued the following statement detailing their recommendation to the Rules and By-Laws Committee: 

“The Iowa and Nevada state parties have worked diligently in their efforts to expand access to their caucuses and meet the Rules and Bylaws Committee’s new requirements. We applaud their innovative work and are grateful for their ongoing, patient cooperation with the committee. We take seriously our responsibility to carefully examine every proposed delegate selection plan with the utmost scrutiny before moving it into full compliance, especially as it relates to ensuring the security of our voting systems and the voting public. We concur with the advice of the DNC’s security experts that there is no tele-caucus system available that meets our standard of security and reliability given the scale needed for the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the current cyber-security climate. For these reasons, we are recommending to the committee that virtual caucus systems not be used in the Iowa and Nevada 2020 caucus processes, and unless compliance can be met through other means, that the committee consider a waiver. We continue to have unwavering confidence in the Iowa and Nevada state parties, and we know that the Iowa Caucuses on February 3rd and Nevada Caucuses on February 22nd will be their most successful yet.”


In December of 2017, the Unity Reform Commission established by the DNC released a list of requirements for caucus states' delegate selection plans, including absentee voting, recount provisions and other mechanisms to make the process more open and transparent. The Rules and By-Laws committee adopted this requirement, the DNC’s governing body voted to approve it in August of 2018 and state parties received this delegate selection plan guidance in December of 2018. State parties worked in 2019 to craft their state-specific plans. Per the rules, plans were due to the DNC by May 1st, at which point analysis of the plans began. The RBC requested assistance from the DNC’s technical experts following their meeting in June of 2019.


Text of memo referenced above:

August 30, 2019
FR: Bob Lord, DNC Chief Security Officer; Nellwynn Thomas, DNC Chief Technology Officer
TO: DNC Rules and By-laws Committee
RE: DNC Technology and Cybersecurity Recommendation regarding Iowa and Nevada Delegate Selection Plans

The Rules and By-Laws Committee requested assistance from the DNC’s technology and cybersecurity staff in reviewing the Iowa and Nevada Democratic Party’s proposed delegate selection plans, and specifically the incorporation of new virtual or phone caucusing technology.

The review included the following actions:

● Reviewing preliminary technical plans, data flow designs and vendor contracts in coordination with the Iowa and Nevada Democratic Parties;
● Monitoring developments in the overall cybersecurity threat landscape;
● Consulting with security experts with deep experience in cybersecurity systems and/or election systems.

First, we applaud the work of the Iowa and Nevada Democratic Parties -- they have worked diligently and systematically to seek innovative solutions to expand access to their caucuses. We recognize the importance of these states in the primary process and the unique organizing opportunities that the caucus format provides in these states.

Based on our review process and the recommendation of security experts, we have concluded that currently, 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.

We base our recommendation in significant part on the current cybersecurity climate and our evaluation of the active threats to the integrity of the U.S. election -- including the recent U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference against our election infrastructure. As we saw in 2016 and 2018, there are a number of sophisticated potential adversaries -- and the Trump administration and Republican leadership have failed to dedicate significant resources, or even speak out against those who seek to interfere in our election.

For all of these reasons, we recommend to the Chair of the DNC and the DNC’s Rules and By-Laws Committee that they work with both state parties to execute a caucus that does not use the proposed virtual caucus technology.

Bob Lord, DNC Chief Security Officer
Nellwyn Thomas, DNC Chief Technology Officer

Iowa Democratic Party
DATE: August 30, 2019

Iowa Democratic Party Statement on DNC’s Recommendation Not to Approve Iowa’s Virtual Caucus Plan

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price released the following statement in response to the DNC and RBC chairs’ recommendation not to approve Iowa’s virtual caucus plan. 

“Regardless of today’s news, we remain confident the 2020 Iowa Caucuses will be our best yet, and set the standard for years to come.

“While only five months remain before the caucuses, we will explore what alternatives may exist to securely increase accessibility from previous years given the time allowed. We’re dedicated to expanding accessibility throughout the process so that no Iowan faces a barrier at their caucus. We are confident that this will be resolved in the coming weeks. 

“This past year, the IDP worked around the clock to make sure that the 2020 caucuses are our most successful ever. It is why we have nearly 80% of our precinct locations locked, nearly 600 people in the caucus leadership pipeline - putting us ahead of the pace set by previous years. We rebuilt infrastructure in places where none existed just a year before. And we have procedures in place that will ensure our caucuses are more transparent and accountable than any other time in our past.

“We were charged by the DNC to create a system that would increase participation, and the Iowa Democratic Party did just that with the virtual caucus. The virtual caucus represents years of work by activists, volunteers, party leaders, former campaign officials, staff, and so many others to find a system that expands participation and preserves the spirit of the caucuses.

“We proposed our plan seven months ago to give us the longest ramp possible to build this system. But in that time, we know the threat landscape has changed. We have seen time and again the increased threat by foreign state actors and the continued reluctance by Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress to take this threat seriously. 

“As Chair of the Party is it my job to protect our voters, protect our party, and to protect the integrity of our first in the nation caucuses. We are obviously disappointed by this outcome, and we continue to have confidence in the abilities of our vendors, but if the DNC does not believe the virtual caucus can be secure, then we cannot go forward.”

Julián for the Future
For Immediate Release: Friday, August 30, 2019
Contact: Sawyer Hackett, National Press Secretary

Julián Castro Issues Statement on DNC Virtual Caucus Decision

CHARLESTON, SC (August 30, 2019) – On Friday, August 30, presidential candidate and former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and San Antonio Mayor, Julián Castro, issued the following statement after reports indicate that the Democratic National Committee will reject plans for a virtual caucus in Iowa.

     The Democratic National Committee’s decision to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters, and decrease turnout by up to a third, in the first-in-the-nation caucus state is an affront to the principles of our democracy. 

     For years, our party has fought for increased access to the ballot, most recently evidenced by the legal struggles in Georgia, North Carolina, and my home state of Texas. This decision goes against everything our Party says we stand for.

    As I’ve campaigned in every corner of Iowa, I’ve heard from teachers, home care workers, nurses, single parents, shift workers, and senior citizens who tell me the same thing: one night of caucusing is not enough. 

    Protecting the integrity of our elections is a critical concern. But with only 157 days until the Iowa caucus, the DNC’s feet-dragging has done a serious disservice to Democratic voters and the principle of a fair, accurate, and unburdensome primary or caucus.

     I strongly urge the DNC to embrace the values of our Party by allowing absentee voting -- either through a secure virtual caucus, mail-in ballot, or early voting absentee process -- in order to ensure that all Iowans have an opportunity to participate in their caucus.

de Blasio 2020


"The Iowa Democratic Party is trying to fundamentally include more voters, which is ultimately how we change this country. The DNC should not stand in the way.  I commend the Iowa Democratic Party’s efforts to open up the caucus process to people with disabilities, people with demanding work schedules and childcare needs, or others for whom the caucus process presents barriers to participation. While cyber-security is a very serious threat to our democracy, I believe it is imperative that the DNC reconsider its decision and immediately get to work, in partnership with the Iowa Democratic Party to ensure the caucus is both safe from interference and accessible to all."

Tom Steyer 2020
Friday, August 30, 2019

Steyer Statement on DNC Rejection of Virtual Caucuses

(SAN FRANCISCO, August 30, 2019) — Today, presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination Tom Steyer released the following statement on the Democratic National Committee decision to reject plans to hold virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada. The virtual caucuses were proposed by the states in order to enable absentee voter participation. 

“I am extremely disappointed in the DNC’s decision to reject plans to hold virtual caucuses, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with Iowans and Nevadans who want their votes to be counted in such an important election. Virtual caucuses would also make participation easier for parents who can’t afford childcare and workers juggling two jobs and night shifts. Democrats should rally behind ideas that increase voter participation, not suppress them. I call on the DNC to reconsider their decision and work with officials in both states to come up with a plan that guarantees security while expanding voter participation.”