WTF Happened in Iowa?

Dakota Tebaldi

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To clarify for people who don't know what's up: what apparently failed is an app that local precincts were supposed to use to transmit their vote tallies to the state Dem party's central office for reporting. Or rather, there were "inconsistencies" with the numbers it was reporting. The app wasn't involved with the actual ballot casting process; there is a paper trail for the actual votes still with the precincts and those are being counted right now.

I don't think the state party as elaborated about what kinds of "inconsistencies" were found with the reporting process. I certainly hope it wasn't a matter of, "wow that person is getting way more votes than we expected them to, that looks fishy so we're tossing the electronically reported result and counting by hand instead". I think it's virtually guaranteed that whatever result Iowa announces tomorrow will be accurate, but the problem is that CNN is right - just because of the nature of this debacle, whoever does worse than expected is going to be able to hint or suggest or outright claim they were cheated.

The Iowa "bump" that CNN refers to is, usually when the Iowa results come out voters start to vote strategically in the following caucuses and primaries. Meaning, some people who wouldn't back the Iowa winner as their personal first choice, will vote for them anyway in their own state's contest because they believe consolidating support around whoever is likely to be the eventual nominee sooner rather than making it a drag-out clawfest all the way through the primary will whittle down the field and allow time to smooth ruffled feathers, making it easier for the party's electorate to come together solidly behind the nom in the general election. Without a clear winner in Iowa to drive this effect, voters in the next state (New Hampshire) will either vote closer to their 'ruthers, or their votes will be influenced by misinformation (e.g., Buttigieg for instance just baldly declaring victory in Iowa with literally zero results having been reported yet).
 

Sid

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We had computer voting more than 20 years ago in the NL, but we are back to the 'old fashioned' paper and pencil voting. No machines involved in the process. Counting is manual and in public.
Digital voting is nice for the prime time TV shows, but with manual voting, the chances of things going wrong or being manipulated are a lot smaller.
Nothing lost if the final results come in after midnight or even the day after the voting.
In the end it is all about secure and trustworthy voting procedures.
 
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Ugh.

Yesterday I went to the dmv here in NJ to renew my drivers license at 2:30 pm. I was told because of glitches in a new computer system they turned everyone away starting at 12:45. Unbelievable, states with incompetent programming for essential things. Especially voting though, where everything can be done by hand better.
 

Aribeth Zelin

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So, some of the bernie people on my friends list are posting conjecture that one of the campaigns paid into the company doing this software, and so I went looking. What I did find out; The company behind this app is 'Shadow', and that the assorted companies behind this one have tried to cover their trail by deleting posts.

What person in the tech industry doesn't know that doesn't work?

My own theory is someone is actually trying to destroy our faith in the system further so we just won't bother.

But if the 'word from the street' is true, I definitely will not support Buttiegieg [who is the campaign that allegedly paid into this app]. [Note the allegedly - its just as likely that people are saying that because he claimed victory without any results being in at all.]

Also, I find it a bit questionable that the Sanders campaign has their own app, and their own results...
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Also, I find it a bit questionable that the Sanders campaign has their own app, and their own results...
If the app is what I think it is, then it makes sense to me that the different campaigns would, if they can afford it, use their own systems, possibly from different suppliers, for recording how the turn-out is progressing during the day, so they can direct their own party workers during the day to ensure that everyone they have recorded as a likely supporter actually turns out to vote.

ETA:

 
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Anya Ristow

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It gets weird. Of course it gets weird.

The app that apparently failed was developed by a company called Shadow, Inc. :p Shadow, Inc. is owned by Acronym, a "political nonprofit organization notable for its substantial digital advertising in the 2020 United States presidential election" [wiki], and its CEO is Tara McGowan, "an American political strategist and journalist" [wiki].

Before we all knew who Pete Buttigieg was, Tara McGowan was super excited he was running for president. That tweet is currently getting the retroactive Bernie Bro treatment. Also, her husband is Michael Halle, Pete's senior strategist.

The app was financed by the Iowa and Nevada Democratic parties, so we can look forward to its use in Nevada, too. Oh, joy. But wait, there's more! It was also financed by the Pete Buttigieg campaign :p for about $21K.

Other noteworthy people involved in Shadow, Inc...

Product manager Ahno Rao, also assistant to the CEO of Hillary for America.
COO James Hickey, also engineering manager for Hillary for America.
CTO Krista Davis, also software engineer for Hillary for America.
CEO Gerard Niemira, also senior product manager, and then "Director of Product", for Hillary for America.

The app was said to have been vetted by Robby Mook's company (he was Hillary's campaign manager), but he is now denying involvement.
 
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Anya Ristow

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I find it a bit questionable that the Sanders campaign has their own app, and their own results...
Sanders can't say so, because he's using the Democratic machinery, and I won't say why, because it will be dismissed as conspiracy, but his campaign is being super vigilant.

Before voters were sent home, the participants in each caucus would have been told the first count, and those not backing a viable candidate would be given three options (move to a candidate with 15%, move to a candidate to bring their total to 15%, or leave). And then all involved would be given a final count. And then the number of delegates for that caucus location would be calculated.

The DNC is said to have had manual reporting methods to back the app. It is likely there were differences between these manual methods and the app, and that this is the cause of the delay.

But in any case, multiple people at each location, including the caucusers, have the results of each location. The truth is out there. But of course there will now be questions about whether the numbers officially reported are accurate.

The Sanders campaign will have collected this information more carefully than anybody. Their results are not official and nobody else will trust them, but they will know whether the eventual official counts are close to accurate.
 

Aeon Jiminy

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After spending years pounding out a narrative of "Russia hacked our elections", we launch our big comeback party pinned to a wireless app that has produced "crickets" for election results.

Who won Iowa? We all know. It rhymes with Chump. We've just made him look more Presidential as he will dominate the media for the next two days with his State of The Union Address and his impeachment outcome, while we dominate the news with failure.

Long Island Iced Tea for a Crowd | SimplyRecipes.com
 
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Luisa Land

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like some other citizens here, I was for many years obliged by the local authorities to count votes in elections in a team of 6 or 7 citizens after the end of the election. You can apply online to participate in the election, but then you will be sent a paper ballot paper, which you fill out and send back to the polling station in special envelopes.

I do not understand the procedure chosen here.
Such a procedure must be transparent and the result must at all times be comprehensible to outsiders (press, citizens, opposition). And that works best with a ballot paper

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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Do I need to show the Tom Scott videos about why IT people, especially security ones, scream at the whole idea of relying on tech in the voting process?
There is an XKCD for everything.



Nothing lost if the final results come in after midnight or even the day after the voting.
In Australia it can take days to get some votes counted and pretty much everyone is entirely OK with that.
 
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It all sounds pretty ridiculous to me. Hillary getting involved and screwing things up. The whole useless impeachment thing. Lots of democrats with no spine to make any real change.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Sanders can't say so, because he's using the Democratic machinery, and I won't say why, because it will be dismissed as conspiracy, but his campaign is being super vigilant.

Before voters were sent home, the participants in each caucus would have been told the first count, and those not backing a viable candidate would be given three options (move to a candidate with 15%, move to a candidate to bring their total to 15%, or leave). And then all involved would be given a final count. And then the number of delegates for that caucus location would be calculated.

The DNC is said to have had manual reporting methods to back the app. It is likely there were differences between these manual methods and the app, and that this is the cause of the delay.

But in any case, multiple people at each location, including the caucusers, have the results of each location. The truth is out there. But of course there will now be questions about whether the numbers officially reported are accurate.

The Sanders campaign will have collected this information more carefully than anybody. Their results are not official and nobody else will trust them, but they will know whether the eventual official counts are close to accurate.
Why does Iowa, a state so atypical of Democratic voters, play such important role in the nomination procedure (or, rather, why is it allowed to?) and why does it have such a bizarre method of choosing candidates?

What's wrong with allowing voters to attend polling stations (or use postal votes) to choose candidates using some form of transferable vote system, rather than having them attend caucus meetings to vote in series of elimination ballots, apparently by show of hands?
 

Anya Ristow

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Why does Iowa, a state so atypical of Democratic voters, play such important role in the nomination procedure (or, rather, why is it allowed to?) and why does it have such a bizarre method of choosing candidates?

What's wrong with allowing voters to attend polling stations (or use postal votes) to choose candidates using some form of transferable vote system, rather than having them attend caucus meetings to vote in series of elimination ballots, apparently by show of hands?
It was my understanding in 2017-ish that there were going to be fewer states caucusing in 2020. I don't know if that turned out to be true.

In any case, the primary elections aren't actually elections. The political parties are private organizations and are free to choose their candidates any way they want. Tom Perez could hold a presser this morning and tell us that the whole process is bothersome and they've simply decided to make HRC the Democratic nominee, and there isn't fuck all we could do about it.

But as to why caucus? IDK. It's got an old-timey feel to it?
 

Beebo Brink

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The political parties are private organizations and are free to choose their candidates any way they want.
And they do. So every state is different and it's all fairly arbitrary. This used to be a bunch of old white guys sitting around a table in the smoke-filled backroom of a bar deciding who they wanted to run. In comparison, the process is now more transparent and democratic, but it doesn't have to be.
 

Luisa Land

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And they do. So every state is different and it's all fairly arbitrary. This used to be a bunch of old white guys sitting around a table in the smoke-filled backroom of a bar deciding who they wanted to run. In comparison, the process is now more transparent and democratic, but it doesn't have to be.


I understood that the parties are not legally obliged to hold the internal elections according to a specific procedure.
But that's not what I'm talking about.

My concern is that, for a stable democratic state, citizens should understand as well as possible what is happening in politics and that a large proportion of citizens should have confidence in the political system
and this means that even internal party elections should be transparent (especially in a country where there are practically only two parties)


But there may also be a difference in the understanding of political parties in different countries, and a discussion about this subject between members of different countries is somewhat difficult, at least for me. Here in Germany and in some other European countries the task of the parties is regulated in the constitution. The parties participate in the political decision-making of the people. Their internal order must correspond to democratic principles. They must publicly account for the origin and use of their funds and assets.
 
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