Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Uh Oh: Dems Fear New Tech Disaster As Nevada Debuts ‘iPad Tool’ To Help Calculate Caucus Results

The Nevada Democratic party swears that its caucuses, set to take place February 22nd, will not descend into madness the way the Iowa caucuses did, but their latest announcement — that caucus organizers will be given an iPad preloaded with software designed to help them tabulate caucus results — has some Democrats fearing another technological meltdown.
The Iowa caucus, of course, erupted into chaos after an app, designed by former Hillary Clinton campaign staffers, which was supposed to collect, process, and report data from the state’s precincts to the Iowa Democratic party, failed, bringing the caucus to a screeching halt and delaying the results for nearly a week. Even after the technology issues were solved, journalists and investigators discovered a host of other errors and inconsistencies in the caucus paperwork, rendering even the “certified” caucus results unreliable.
Nevada, which hired the same company (the ominously named, “Shadow Inc.”) to make its own caucus management app, pledged, in the days following the Iowa disaster, that they would drop plans to use the program, according to The Verge.
“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd,” the Nevada Democratic Party said in a statement released last Tuesday. “We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus. We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward.”
Over the weekend, though, Nevada said it would be rolling out a new “caucus tool,” preloaded onto party-owned iPads, designed to help “facilitate” the collection of caucus results — but they swear its not an “app” and they promise that it will not melt down.
“The new tool will help precinct chairs fold in the results from people in their precinct who chose to caucus early with the preferences of in-person attendees on Caucus Day by calculating the viability threshold and carrying out the two alignments in the caucus process, according to the volunteers and the video recording,” according to the Nevada Independent.
In a video released to caucus organizers, training them on how to use the iPad program, “a party staffer tells volunteers that the new mechanism ‘is not an app’ but should be thought of as ‘a tool,'” the Nevada Independent reports.
The party itself told Mashable that it has things under control.
“NV Dems will execute a successful caucus on February 22,” they said in a statement. “We continue to work around the clock to evaluate and test a process that will support our nearly 3,000 trained volunteers. As we had always planned, we will have a paper backup and redundancies in place for our process. Our caucus will be secure, simple and efficient.”
And Nevada’s Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, feels confident. “Nevada’s got a great program,” he said in an interview with The Hill. “We’ve got some great people that are hired that are onboard. We’ve got a lot of informational meetings out there. I’m confident we’ve taken every precaution. We’ve learned from Iowa and hopefully we won’t have any of those problems.”
That’s cold comfort for Democrats who are concerned that any change in how the caucuses are tabulated will result in an Iowa repeat. Mashable points out, at least, that the iPads will be disconnected from the internet (leaving them far less vulnerable to a security breach), and that the program’s purpose seems to be collecting data from people who want to caucus early.

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