Caucus App Creates Difficulties on Caucus Night

Politics

DES MOINES, Iowa — Technical difficulties led to statewide reporting issues during Monday night’s Iowa caucuses. A smartphone app, created by Shadow Inc., is to blame as caucus results were still not reported 24 hours after the caucuses began.

According to a Campaign Disclosure Report, the Iowa Democratic Party paid $63,183.91 to Shadow late last year in the form of two payments. One payment was made in November and the other in December. According to a local precinct chair, precinct officials were not aware of the app’s existence until temporary precinct chair training last week.

They had indicated that if an app is available that we could reach out via email to request to download the app. It wasn’t just available to the general public,” said precinct 34 chair Breann Bye.

The app was completely optional for chairs to use and issues with the app were occurring before the caucuses on Monday night.

“I had heard a few days beforehand that there were some folks who tried to access the app. Some other precinct chairs tried to access the app and it perhaps wasn’t performing as intended at that point. And so I stuck with my decision to go ahead and call in the results on caucus night,” said Bye.

It has been confirmed by Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price that the raw data was not compromised. Instead, the output was incomplete due to a coding error.

“The one thing I will say is that the underlying data, the raw data is secure. It was always secure. This was a coding error in one of the pieces on the back end, but the raw data, the data that has come in is secure, and I can ensure Iowans of that,” said Price in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Happy Medium, a local agency who works with similar tech roll outs, says precinct workers should have had more hands-on training prior to Monday night, including possibly running mock caucuses.

You need to be a strong agency, in my opinion, and have a strong partnership with who you’re building these products for because the organization that you’re building for has never gone through this potentially. You as an agency have a responsibility because you do it every single day to guide them in the right way and to be forward thinking on their behalf,” said Katie Patterson, CEO and founder of Happy Medium. “Building an app doesn’t solve a problem. Building a great app with great training and great rollout solves a problem.”

Tuesday afternoon Shadow released an apology on Twitter saying: 

We sincerely regret the delay in the reporting of the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses and the uncertainty it has caused to the candidates, their campaigns, and Democratic caucus-goers.”

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