Pete Buttigieg takes Clayton County

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Aaron Gibney, center, was the youngest caucus-goer at the Boardman/Highland precinct Monday night. The Central Senior came to support Pete Buttigieg.

By Pam Reinig

The Iowa Democratic Party late Monday night cited “quality checks” and new reporting rules for a significant delay in results from the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus. That may be only part of the story, however.

According to Clayton County Democratic Chair Brian Bruening, the program or “app” used to report numbers from each precinct statewide presented some challenges. In fact, during his opening comments at Keystone AEA in Elkader where his own precinct met, Bruening encountered issues with the app the first time he tried to use it.

“I’m not sure what happened but I do know that we were still receiving updates to the app yesterday afternoon,” he said in a call to the Register just before midnight Monday.

Results were expected by late Monday evening. The official count was pushed to Tuesday after the Register deadline. Whatever the real issue, party officials are insistent that the delay was not the result of “a hack or intrusion.”

Bruening had earlier made arrangements for precinct chairs to calculate their numbers by hand and report the information to him. Though not official, here’s how Clayton County appears to have voted along with the number of delegates each candidate will take to the county convention in late March: Pete Buttigieg, 23; Amy Klobuchar, 14; Bernie Sanders, 11; Joe Biden, 10; and Elizabeth Warren, 2.

“I’m confident in the numbers called in by my precinct chairs,” Bruening said. “Everybody did a great job and despite the issue with the technical collection of data, it was a successful evening.”

Caucus turnout may have set records, another fact that won’t be immediately verified. Attending his first caucus was Central senior Aaron Gibney, who last September had an encounter with Buttigieg when the candidate was in town to speak at the Elkader Opera House. And though brief, it made a deep impression on the 18-year-old Elkader native.

“What happened was this: I ran by his bus during cross-country practice,” Gibney said. “There were a lot of people around him, which made me curious so I read a bit about him. I liked that he was in the military and he seemed like a really smart guy so I decided to support him in the caucus.”

Gibney was one of 135 people from Boardman/Highland Township who gathered at Keystone AEA, one of the county’s 13 precincts. He was also the site’s youngest caucus-goer.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and his office made a concerted effort to reach young potential caucus-goers like Gibney as part of an overall push to bolster youth voter registration. And while the numbers aren’t quite at the levels they were in 2008, they are up more than 25 percent over this time in 2016, according to Pate’s office.

“One of the things that will be interesting to watch in November will be the impact of the youth vote,” said Bruening. “The fact that young people who will be 18 by Election Day turned out to caucus is a strong indication that young voters are going to make a difference.”

President Donald Trump was the winner of the 2020 Iowa Republican caucus, a largely symbolic vote as he was facing no significant opposition.

More information from the caucus will be published on the Register’s Facebook page and in the February 12 issue of the paper.

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