The results of the Iowa caucus have been marred by an app used to collect and tally the results. Analysts who studied the app say that it was rather rudimentary.
It was analysed by a team organized by the website Vice's Motherboard, who obtained and distributed a copy of the app in the interest of transparency.
The app in question – IowaReporterApp – was developed by Shadow Inc. It infamously malfunctioned during the caucus and caused major issues that delayed the reporting of results of the caucus until days later. The app had been designed to collect and report early results instead of tabulating final vote counts.
The #IowaCaucus mess explained.#ReactionaryTimes
Posted by Reactionary Times on Friday, February 7, 2020
The app reportedly had a few basic functions:
1. After a precinct chair logged into the app with a precinct identifier number, PIN code, and passes two-factor authentication, they are given basic information on running the caucus.
2. Precinct chairs were then asked how many attendees would be at the caucus
3. They were then asked to enter the vote totals for the first round and second round of the caucus. The app would then calculate the number of delegates each candidate would receive.
4. The app would then send those results to a Google Cloud Functions back-end controlled by Shadow.
Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira defended the simplicity of the app by saying it was designed to be that simple;
"For something like this, you don’t want to introduce complexity where there doesn’t need to be any," he said. "The point of this app was to help temporary precinct chairs do the math and get good results in the room and speed up the process, help them basically. That is a relatively simple function, it’s basically a calculator, so that’s the approach we took to it."
"The app was sound, the data that came out of the app was sound, the math that was done on the app was sound," Niemera continued. "All the the results we collected on the app were sound and have been verified as such."
Niemera believes that one problem that happened on caucus night was caused by a problem that happened with the app when they tried to move the gathered results onto a verification system controlled by the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP). The problem occurred when a data-formatting error caused the information to not be accepted during this process.
"We have this independent verification step," Niemira said. "In the course of doing that, we had some code that would look at our results database and then move that over to the IDP’s quality control check environment. In the process of doing that, we had some faulty code that took the data and put it into a format that made it fail the checks by the IDP. That was throwing up flags, which took time to resolve."
The Department of Homeland Security said that they had offered to analyze the security of the app but, according to DHS, the Iowa Democratic Party curiously declined the offer. Does that mean that they're trying to hide something?
After the messy fallout, The Wall Street Journal reported that DNC chief security officer Bob Lord called for the democrats to not use the app going forward.
Is This Going to Affect Other States?
America's Eyes are already moving towards New Hampshire, which is scheduled to have a traditional primary on Feb. 11. Nevada is set for a caucus and that State's democratic leadership has already said that they aren’t going to use the app that in some way's became an ever bigger story than the caucuses themselves.
After Nevada casts their vote on February 22nd things begin to move at full speed. South Carolina, the last state to vote early, has their vote on Feb. 29. After this comes Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states cast their vote.
Although many people think that the issues with the application somehow invalidate the results of the caucuses, it really just meant a delay in reporting the winner and didn't cause a change to the overall result.
That fact has not stopped current DNC Chair Tom Perez for calling for a controversial recanvass of Iowa. Is he looking for perhaps a different result? It wouldn't be the first time that the DNC interjected it's influence into choosing a candidate artificially, as the 2016 election saw DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz effective rig the primary in the favor of Hillary Clinton, in a dishonest effort exposed by Wikileaks.