CHICAGO — With the Illinois primary coming up next month, some voters are looking at the confusion in Iowa and wondering if a similar situation could unfold here.
Experts said the mess in Iowa is really about software, not security. In Illinois, officials said a repeat of Iowa’s delayed reporting is highly unlikely.
“Possibly the biggest catastrophe in modern caucus and primary history dating back to 1972,” said DePaul political science professor Wayne Steger.
Steger said this year’s Iowa caucus was a complete debacle.
“We’ve never had a situation where you couldn’t find the results, not just an hour late, but 20 hours late,” Steger said.
The delayed reporting results has been frustrating candidates and voters.
Democratic party officials said a coding problem in the app used to tabulate the results is to blame.
“It is focused on an app that they were using to collect and transmit their results,” Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said. “And that is not something that could ever happen in Illinois.”
Dietrich said the problems in Iowa couldn’t happen in Illinois because the state uses equipment and systems that have been tested, approved and certified by the state.
Illinois also requires strict polling place protocols regarding the physical handling of electronic cards that records votes and the paper ballots.
Dietrich also said the state never used third-party apps like in Iowa.
“We don’t use anything like that. There is no third-party app, there is no mobile phone use during the tabulation of votes of the transmission of votes from polling places to the election authority,” Dietrich said.
Cook County voters have seen election results delayed because of voting equipment.
In 2006, then-Cook County Clerk David Orr dealt with delayed results because the county was using new touch screen voting machines for the first time.
“In my book, the issue is why was this transmission slow?” he said back then.
WGN reached Orr on the phone in Florida.
“Could there be a delay in the vote? Absolutely. Remember, elections are still run by people,” Orr said.
Orr said Iowa officials should have spoken publicly early and often about the situation.
“I found for me, that just going on television explaining exactly what it was,” Orr said. “Being transparent.”
All of the experts WGN talked to said it’s important to differentiate between slow reporting and cyber security concerns. The issues in Iowa are a result of slow reporting, not hacking.
The Illinois primary is scheduled for March 17.
At around 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Iowa Democratic party released partial results; with former South Bend Mayor slightly leading Sen. Bernie Sanders.