Nevada Democrats Plan to Use ‘Tool’ for Caucuses After Ditching App

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
February 10, 2020Updated: February 10, 2020

The Nevada Democratic Party is planning on using an iPad-based “tool” to help record votes during the state’s Feb. 22 caucuses, after ditching an application developed by Shadow Inc.

Party officials blamed Shadow’s app for the issues that arose during the caucuses in Iowa earlier this month.

Slides and video footage from volunteer training sessions the Nevada Democratic Party held late last week and accounts from some volunteers indicate the party is using what it’s describing as a “tool” to help record votes.

“What we’ve done after Iowa is consult with a group of tech and security folks who are helping us through this process and making sure that we’re doing this in a way that is simple and efficient and secure for all of you so that we’re giving you the best tools we can possible on Caucus Day,” a staffer told volunteers in video footage obtained by the Nevada Independent, emphasizing that the new mechanism “is not an app,” but should be thought of as “a tool.”

The tool will provide precinct chairs with early voting data “so that when you do your viability calculations, you’re able to get the number of people who voted early and then when you see the results of your first alignment, you’re able to key in that early vote information so that you have every piece of information you need to run your precinct caucus.”

Seth Morrison, a volunteer site leader, told 8 News, “They kept reinforcing that it is not an app but it is a software product that is going to be on an iPad.”

“It’s a game of semantics.”

Another volunteer told the Independent, “We got very little information. It was just a preview. There was no hands-on.

“We were not given the program to work with or practice with. All we have were a few slides to look at while they told us that they’re planning to develop it further.”

browsing picture stock
Browsing images online on an iPad in a file photograph. (fancycrave1/Pixabay)

A slide from the presentation shows a finger pressing down on the screen of a handheld device and tells volunteers that there will be an icon on the home screen that they’ll tap to get into a form. The rest of the slide was obscured by a stand.

The party didn’t return a request by The Epoch Times for comment, and has declined to comment to other news outlets about the “tool.”

The state Democratic Party released a statement saying, “NV Dems will execute a successful caucus on February 22. We continue to work around the clock to evaluate and test a process that will support our nearly 3,000 trained volunteers. As we had always planned, we will have a paper backup and redundancies in place for our process. Our caucus will be secure, simple and efficient.”

While the tool is pre-loaded and may not use mobile connectivity, those aren’t big enough differences, according to a nonprofit election technology research institute, which added that whether it’s an app or tool doesn’t matter.

“So what’s the differences in NV? A) It’s pre-loaded & configured by IT support & iPads are distributed (that’s good: no downloads on uncontrollable devices). B) The App performs the caucus math and produces results that *may* be (hopefully) manually transmitted,” the OSET Institute said on Twitter, in response to the Independent’s article.

“But that’s where it ends. Although it appears they have 2 more weeks than Iowa had, they *still* suffer from much of the same product management missteps, the first & foremost being doing *nothing* to engender *trust* (communication + transparency) in what they’re doing.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, sought to reassure voters, telling The Hill on Feb. 10 that the state is preparing to avoid the mistakes made in Iowa.

“Nevada’s got a great program. We’ve got some great people that are hired that are onboard,” Sisolak said. “We’ve got a lot of informational meetings out there. I’m confident we’ve taken every precaution. We’ve learned from Iowa and hopefully we won’t have any of those problems.”

“We’re not using an app like they did in Iowa, so hopefully we won’t have any problems.”