After an Iowa Caucus marred by technical problems with its mobile app used to tabulate and report voting results, the Democratic Party in Nevada announced on Tuesday it will abandon plans to use a similar app made by the same developer — just 18 days before its own caucus.
Nevada party Executive Director Alana Mounce confirmed that state Democrats had contracted with Shadow Inc., which built the Iowa app, to develop its own apps for early voting and Caucus Day.
The last minute change — early voting is set to begin on February 15 — could mean the party has to retrain the hundreds of volunteers who will run the caucus.
On Monday, Iowa Democratic volunteers told reporters they had trouble logging in and uploading caucus results via the app, which they were instructed to download onto their personal smartphones. When they tried to call the Iowa Democratic Party to report vote tallies over the phone, in some cases they were put on hold for more than an hour.
Chris Wicker, a former chairman of the Washoe County Democratic Party, says he’s worried the change could make the complicated process of caucusing on February 22 in Nevada even more difficult for volunteers.
“If they did have to retrain folks, I think it would be an extremely difficult thing to do at this stage in the game,” he said. “We’re only a couple weeks away from the Nevada caucus and you have hundreds of people that have already volunteered and been trained.”
According to Fred Lokken, political science department chairman for Truckee Meadows Community College, the meltdown in Iowa is an indication that the caucus system itself should be re-evaluated.
He says the in-person nature of caucusing turns-off many voters, and that adding apps only makes it more difficult for people who would otherwise volunteer.
“They find themselves in a real dilemma,” Lokken said.
The problems in Iowa on Monday have bolstered critics of the caucus system, of using of mobile technology for counting votes and the state’s position as the first to vote on presidential candidates.
But Wicker says he’s not worried about the same thing happening in Nevada: When he served as a caucus volunteer, the party was able to successfully tally votes over the phone.
“When I’ve done it in the past, it’s only been a few minutes wait time to get in,” he said. “Not like they’ve experienced in Iowa.”
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