Kirit Minhas ’20 and Isabel Shepherd ’20
The Iowa Caucus, the first presidential primary in the nation, was a wild ride this year.
For the first time, the caucus used an app for reporting of results across the state. However, the app, which had not been tested statewide, quickly failed for caucus chairs in several precincts. As caucus chairs struggled to submit results, many turned to backup phone lines in order to submit their results. With limited staff, the phone lines jammed, further delaying the results. As it became clear that the app had failed and results could not be confidently validated, officials returned to paper records. It took nearly four days for 100% of precincts to report, and frontrunners Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders ended with a 0.1% difference in popular vote percentage. Both the Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns have requested a recanvass of results in several precincts.
Looking forward, it would seem that the outrage and panic surrounding the technological failures of the Iowa Caucus would steer technology away from all elections in the near future. However, the Nevada Caucus on February 22 remains a topic of political contention. Although the Nevada Democratic Party had promised to remove all technology from their caucus immediately following the Iowa debacle, they have since shifted to a reliance upon “an iPad-based tool” that will be used to “sync early voters’ preferences with choices from people who come to the Feb. 22 caucuses” (Washington Post). This remains a very precarious move for the Democratic Party, which is already fragile after Iowa’s dangerous blow—Nevada has given no proof of additional cybersecurity or coding checks on the app they are using. On the other hand, New Hampshire’s primary along with the caucuses of North Dakota and Wyoming represent glimmers of hope for the Democrats, as they have sworn off any novel technology use. It remains to be seen what may result from the Nevada Caucus, and how the 2020 presidential election will change the future record of the United States Democratic Party.
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