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'They hung up on me': Live CNN telephone interview perfectly captures the disaster that was Iowa caucus night

You can hear his frustration

Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images

A live CNN telephone interview perfectly encapsulated the debacle that unfolded before America's eyes Monday night as the Democratic Party failed to release results from its much-anticipated Iowa caucus.

Hung up by "irregularities" and "quality control" issues, most Americans finally went to bed without knowing the name of the winner in Iowa.

But Shawn Sebastian, along with other precinct secretaries across the state, were not so lucky. Sebastian could not afford to rest until he delivered his precinct's results to the Iowa Democratic Party — a task that proved daunting amid the night's many complications.

'They hung up on me'

Frustrated over the delay, Sebastian agreed to talk with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about what was going on in Iowa.

"Well, Wolf, I have been on hold for over an hour with the Iowa Democratic Party," Sebastian began. "They tried to, I think, promote an app to report the results. The app, by all accounts, just doesn't work."

"So, we've been recommended to call into the hotline, and the hotline has not been responsive," he added.

As Blitzer proceeded to probe Sebastian further, he heard a response from a woman on the other end of the line.

"This is a real coincidence, Wolf," Sebastian said with some relief. "I just got off hold just now, so I gotta get off the phone to report the results."

Blitzer asked if CNN could remain on the line while he reported the results and Sebastian agreed before proceeding to answer the woman.

"Hi. Hello?" he said, but it was too late. The woman had hung up.

"They hung up on me," he said to Blitzer, letting out an exasperated laugh. "They hung up on me. OK, I've got to get back in line on hold," he repeated in disbelief, "they just hung up."

You can hear the frustration in his voice.

He was on hold for over two hours

To make matters worse, Sebastian was not able to quickly reconnect with the Iowa Democratic Party. During another live telephone interview 30 minutes after he was hung up on, this time with MSNBC, he was still waiting for an answer from party officials.

Finally, around 11 p.m. local time, he was able to report his precinct's results.

"With all the complicated things to report (total, first alignment, caveats about the math and totals, etc.) it took almost 20 minutes to report," he said on Twitter.

"Starting to understand why I was on hold for so long," he added.

Earlier in the evening, Sebastian elected to bypass the app and the hotline and took to Twitter to post the results of his precinct's first alignment.

Later, after ongoing difficulty communicating with the IDP, he posted an update of the results after the final alignment.

Sebastian also made sure to ease concerns about the accuracy of the totals, asserting that despite frustrating delays, "there's a paper trail for every person's choices."

One last thing…
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