Supporters of President Donald Trump worsened this week’s Iowa caucus breakdown by placing prank phone calls that hindered the reporting of results, the Iowa Democratic Party said on Thursday.
The malicious calls were part of what Mandy McClure, a state party spokeswoman, said was an “unusually high volume of inbound calls” to the party’s caucus hotline.
“The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results,” McClure said in a statement to CNN, “but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported.”
The party’s claims were bolstered by a number of social media posts viewed by CNN that proclaimed a desire to disrupt the caucuses. Due to the anonymous nature of the posts, CNN was unable to independently verify that the social media users in fact made the phone calls they claimed to have placed.
At least two phone numbers linked to the Iowa Democratic Party were posted this week on 4chan, the online message board associated with the right wing.
On Thursday, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez called for a recanvass of all results in Iowa, as the state’s Democratic Party continues to struggle to verify the data from Monday night’s caucuses.
As caucus chairs grappled with a malfunctioning app and party officials scrambled to take results by phone, one anonymous 4chan user encouraged comrades to add to the chaos – by dialing the public caucus hotline listed on the party’s website.
“The phone lines are totally clogged right now, but still functional,” the user wrote. “We can fix that. By calling the number in the image below, you can help make the problem worse and cause the results to be delayed even further. This will help generate conspiracy theories galore, and you can tell your grandkids how you helped continue 4chan’s long history of trolling the nation around the election season.”
Other 4chan users celebrated as they dialed a second phone number associated with the party.
“Clogging the line as we speak,” wrote a user. “lel im on hold right now,” said another. A third user posted a link to a website that advertises the ability to send pre-recorded prank messages to any number.
Meanwhile, IDP officials also had to contend with innocent calls from members of the public who were simply trying to determine what was going on.
“I just called Iowa caucas (sic) hotline 1-800-325-8602, asked what the status is of the election last night and I got hung up on,” one Twitter user wrote in a tweet directed at CNN’s Jake Tapper.
An Iowa Democratic official in the room Monday night told CNN that self-identified Trump supporters accounted for only a fraction of the prank calls.