Results Postponed for Iowa Caucus Due to App Error


Janell Wang, Staff Writer

The Democratic Party waits with anticipation for the results of the Iowa caucus. All of this depended on a new app recently implemented into the election process. This app was created by a tech firm managed by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign veterans and one of them was once an engineer for Google. The app was made in order to fill in for the requirements put into place after the controversy behind the last Iowa caucus during the 2016 presidential election. The app allows more transparency in the election with it not just reporting the results but also includes the voters’ first and second choices too. 

Party leaders were concerned that since there was a large increase in data to organize compared to the previous years, the usual method of communicating votes through phone would be much too inefficient. A system involving virtual voting was proposed but rejected after it was deemed to be too susceptible to hacking. The supposed solution of using an app that could instantly tally in votes as soon as precinct chairs input them appeared to be the way to go. Unfortunately, this ended up backfiring and failed to deliver as there were several issues with the app.

Some people couldn’t get the app to function while others either didn’t download it or weren’t tech-savvy and simply didn’t know how to do so. It didn’t help that even the organizers themselves weren’t sure how to get the app working. As a result, the final results of the Iowa caucus could not be tallied up and released. Results were also attempted to be reported through a backup phone line, but the hold on the line took up to around an hour or more. State Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price thought the problem stemmed from a coding error and issued a statement on Tuesday, Feb. 4, “While our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld.”

The app was produced by Shadow, a subsidiary of ACRONYM which is a non-profit Democratic organization. During the days before the night of the voting, it was thought that the app could potentially be hacked and interfere with the election. Instead, it appears that the problem was much different than initially thought. 

Iowa Democratic Party communications director Mandy McClure addressed the problem in a written statement, “We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being sued to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report,” she further assures everyone that everything was under control, “This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

In the meantime, organizers are working to solve the problem as people express confusion and annoyance over the delay. 


Photo courtesy of NBCNEWS.COM