Iowa: Scott County Auditor: 95% chance Iowa 2nd district US House race headed to court | Tom Barton/Quad City Times

The historically close race for an open southeast Iowa congressional seat could be nearing a single-digit victory as the tally continues to narrow as counties work to complete their recount of votes. Whatever the outcome, the race results are almost certainly headed to a legal challenge. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, as of late Wednesday afternoon, had 196,880 votes to Democrat Rita Hart’s 196,845, according to unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. The U.S. House race is the closest federal race in the country, and could become a single-digit race. “The reality that this is going to a (legal) contest, I believe, is, you know, 95% probability. They’re going to be within 50 votes of each other,” Scott County Auditor Roxanna Mortiz said Wednesday. The three-member recount board — which includes one representative from each campaign and one neutral member — in Scott County adjourned Wednesday without addressing a 131-ballot discrepancy between its tabulation of the absentee ballots received by the Scott County Auditor and those included in the county’s certified canvass of election results after election day. Rather than conduct a full machine recount of absentee ballots, the board decided, 2-1, over the objections of the Miller-Meeks’ campaign, to adjourn, leaving the unexplained discrepancy. Michael Bousselot, chief of staff to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and the Miller-Meeks’ campaign representative, did not sign the recount board report “that has this cloud over it.” The board adjourned after requesting and awaiting legal advice from the Scott County Attorney, which advises the recount board.

Full Article: Scott County Auditor: 95% chance Iowa 2nd district US House race headed to court | News – Local and National | qctimes.com

 

Iowa: Three counties use voting machines to assist hand recount, defying Secretary of State opinion | Zachary Oren Smith/Iowa City Press-Citizen

Three county recount boards are defying a recent legal opinion from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office and using a machine to aid the recount of ballots in the ultra-close 2nd District congressional race. Recount boards in Scott, Johnson and Clinton counties — the three most populous in the district — justified the move, saying it is necessary to ensure that the recount board’s three members have time to examine ballots the machines couldn’t read for voter intent to see if any were filed for Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks or Democrat Rita Hart but were not tallied accordingly. Assistant Scott County Attorney Robert Cusack offered a legal opinion for his board writing that using a machine to assist the hand count is consistent with the recount board’s charge from Iowa Code to “tabulate all votes” and that a hand recount of all 60,000 votes is not required in light of the confidence in voting machines and the code’s own time constraint. “If the recount board can determine the intent of the voter, then that vote should be counted,” he said.

Full Article: Scott County defies Secretary of State with machine-assisted hand recount

Iowa’s 2nd District: Recounts begin with race still too close to call | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

At least one county in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District has begun the recount process in the closest federal race in the country. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks currently leads Democrat Rita Hart by just 47 votes out of more than 394,000 cast. Miller-Meeks has claimed victory, but Hart last week requested recounts in all 24 counties in the district. The winner of the race is not likely to be known until the end of the month, when the state certifies its election results. Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz said her county convened a recount board at 8 a.m. Tuesday to begin a machine recount the nearly 90,000 votes cast in the race there. The three-member board is made up of one person chosen by the Hart campaign, one person chosen by the Miller-Meeks campaign and a third person agreed upon by the other two. “This is a great opportunity in democracy because it’s a check and balance to us — to our system and to our equipment,” Moritz said. “And while I have full faith in the process, it allows the public to see that it works.” That “check and balance” will allow voters to know their vote was counted, she said.

Full Afrticle: Iowa’s 2nd District: Recounts begin with race still too close to call

Iowa: Judge backs limits on absentee ballot drop box sites | Ryan J. Foley/Associated Press

A judge has kept in place guidance from Iowa’s secretary of state that county elections commissioners can only set up absentee ballot drop boxes at or outside their offices. Judge William Kelly rejected a request from a Latino civil rights organization and a group aligned with Democrats to block Secretary of State Paul Pate’s guidance and allow for drop boxes in locations such as grocery stores. The ruling, coming nearly three weeks after Kelly heard arguments in the case, isn’t expected to have an impact because it comes so close to Election Day. Most absentee ballots have already been returned and auditors had dropped plans to add drop box locations even if Pate’s guidance was suspended. Kelly said that requiring voters or their designees to return ballots to a location where the county auditor conducts business is “not a severe burden” on the right to vote. He noted that voters can also put them in the mail or vote in person, either early or on Election Day. Iowa law says that absentee ballots should be returned to the county elections commissioner’s office by voters or their designees and is silent on the use of drop boxes to collect them.

Full Article: Judge backs Iowa’s limits on absentee ballot drop box sites

Iowa Supreme Court upholds Republican law on absentee voting requests | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Noines Register

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a new law making it harder for county auditors to process absentee ballot requests with missing or incomplete information, days before Iowa’s deadline to request a ballot for the 2020 election.The court issued a decision Wednesday evening upholding a Republican-supported law that prevents auditors from using the state’s voter registration database to fill in any missing information or correct errors when a voter requests an absentee ballot. The law instead requires the auditor’s office to contact the voter by telephone, email or physical mail.The League of United Latin American Citizens and Majority Forward, a Democratic-aligned nonprofit organization that supports voter registration and turnout efforts, sued Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional. They said auditors have used the database to correct errors in the past and that the law burdens Iowans’ right to vote.A district court upheld the law last month, and the Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Iowa: Secretary of State will mail ballot request forms ahead of November election | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

Secretary of State Paul Pate will mail an absentee ballot request form to all active registered Iowa voters before the November general election after a panel of Iowa lawmakers granted his request to do so on Friday. Before Iowa’s June 2 primary, Pate, a Republican, mailed absentee ballot request forms to the state’s roughly 2 million registered voters. His actions were credited with contributing to Iowa’s record turnout in that election, when more than 531,000 Iowans cast ballots in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 80% of Iowans who voted in the primary did so by mail. But last month, the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature passed a law preventing him from doing the same thing in November without first getting approval from the Legislative Council. When the council, a 24-member body of legislative leaders that is controlled by Republicans, met Friday, it voted unanimously to grant Pate’s request. “I want Iowa voters and poll workers to be safe during this pandemic while we conduct a clean, fair and secure election. After consulting with all 99 county auditors, I believe the best way to accomplish that goal is by mailing an absentee ballot request form to every active registered voter in the state,” Pate said in a statement, noting that in-person voting will still be available.

Iowa: Lawmakers approve special election changes, turn down Democratic absentee ballot request | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

A group of top Iowa lawmakers Wednesday approved the first request made by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to make emergency changes to the state’s election procedures since a new law went into effect last month. But the panel also turned down a Democratic request to allow the state office to send absentee ballot request forms to all registered Iowa voters. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed a law last week restricting Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, and any future secretary of state from making emergency changes to election procedures without first getting approval from the 24-member Legislative Council. The group is made up of Democratic and Republican lawmakers and controlled by Republicans. In the first test of the new law, the council met by phone Wednesday and granted Pate’s request to allow military personnel and overseas citizens the option to submit their ballots electronically to their county auditor when voting in seven July 7 special elections for vacant city council and county supervisor seats.

Iowa: Governor signs bill limiting use of voter database | David Pitt/Associated Press

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Tuesday that will deny county officials the ability to use a voter database to confirm missing or incorrect information on absentee ballot requests. The measure was inserted by Republicans into a massive budget bill on the final day of the legislative session. Reynolds signed the measure into law, opting not to kill the rule change with a line-item veto. Republican Rep. Gary Mohr defended the measure in floor debate as an election security measure that would help “ensure a person who applies for an absentee ballot is the one who casts the absentee ballot.”

Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds signs law limiting Iowa secretary of state’s powers in elections | Ian Richardson/Des Moines Register

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into law new restrictions that will prevent Secretary of State Paul Pate from mailing ballot request forms to Iowans in November’s election without first seeking approval from legislators. The law will also prohibit county election officials from decreasing the number of polling places by more than 35% during an election. The legislation was passed by state lawmakers after Pate and county election officials took similar steps before the primary because of the coronavirus pandemic. Leading up to the primary, Pate extended the mail-in voting period from 29 to 40 days and mailed ballot request forms to every registered voter in Iowa. The primary had record turnout, with nearly 80% of those casting ballots voting absentee. But Republicans in both chambers of the Legislature looked to limit Pate’s power, with some saying he had pushed the limits of his authority and that another secretary of state could use the same powers in an effort to reduce voter turnout.

Iowa: Republican lawmakers in Iowa push to limit absentee voting

Barely a week after Iowa election officials reported a record primary turnout after mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, Republican legislative leaders in the Senate pushed a bill that would limit the secretary of state’s ability to do so again. Senate Republicans argued the changes are needed to to fight voter fraud, though studies show millions of ballots have been cast by mail without significant problems. House Republicans worked with Democrats to amend the bill saying the Legislature should have the final say in how elections are conducted. “There’s a dire need to put common sense constraints on the secretary of state because they’re sorely needed,” Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann said during Thursday night debate in the House where the amendment passed 93-2. Democrats said the Senate bill was an effort to suppress voting because Republicans believe a higher turnout benefits Democratic candidates. On Wednesday night, the Senate approved extensive changes to election procedures in a vote with only Republican support.

Iowa: Senate Reublicans bar secretary of state from mailing absentee ballot requests | Erin Murphy/The Gazette

Iowa’s top elections official no longer would be permitted to mail absentee ballot request forms to voters unsolicited — a step taken this year ahead of the state’s June 2 primary election, which broke turnout records amid the coronavirus pandemic — under legislation approved Wednesday by Republicans in the Iowa Senate. The legislation also includes myriad other election changes, including limiting the number of polling locations county auditors can close during an emergency and requiring voters to complete verification information on absentee ballot request forms. The proposal also extends some deadlines to request absentee ballots, measures that had bipartisan support during Senate debate on the bill on Wednesday.

Iowa: Vote by mail: After record primary turnout, Iowa Senate Republicans try to limit vote-by-mail in presidential election | Nicole Goodkind/Fortune

Iowa set a new record for primary election turnout this month after secretary of state Paul Pate sent applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. More than 520,000 ballots were cast, according to Pate’s office, beating the previous record of 450,000 set in 1994. Now, Republicans in the state senate are trying to prevent him from doing the same in the general election this November. The Iowa Senate State Government Committee advanced a 30-page bill on a party-line vote late last week that would prohibit Pate, also a Republican, from proactively sending applications for mail-in-ballots to all registered voters. Anyone who wanted a mail-in ballot would need to submit a written request on their own and show proof of valid voter identification. The bill would prohibit the secretary from taking emergency election action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The secretary can make changes in cases of extreme weather or during wartime, it says, but not during a health crisis. It also prevents Pate from making any changes to the early or absentee voting process, even in an emergency.

Iowa: County auditor, local political and advocacy groups express concern over Senate bill that curbs absentee ballot, emergency powers – News | Robbie Sequeira/The Ames Tribune

The campaign by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to encourage voters to shift to absentee voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic paid off during last week’s elections when the state set a record for primary turnout. Statewide, turnout was 24% for the June 2 voting. In Story County, it was 22%, also a record, with a total of 13,936 ballots cast. But it’s unclear whether the widespread mail-in balloting will be repeated in November. A state Senate bill authored and advanced by majority Republicans would prevent the secretary of state from repeating his pre-primary mailing of absentee ballot requests to every registered voter in the state. Instead, his office would only be permitted to mail ballot request forms to people who ask for them in writing. The bill also would limit the emergency powers of local election officials during the pandemic. including restricting the power of county auditors to reduce polling location by more than 35 percent during an emergency situation.

Iowa: Senate Republicans propose limiting election officials’ powers during emergency | Ian Richardson and Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

Three days after a statewide primary election that saw record turnout due largely to coronavirus-related absentee voting, Iowa Senate Republicans advanced legislation that would prevent election officials from repeating some of the same steps in the general election. The legislation would prohibit county auditors from reducing polling locations by more than 35% during an emergency and prohibit the secretary of state from mailing absentee ballot requests without a written voter request. Iowa election officials took both of those actions before Tuesday’s primary to ease both voting and election administration during the virus. Republicans have said they want to write guidelines to provide clarity for campaigns ahead of the November federal elections. But Democrats on Friday said the changes would suppress votes, and the amendment also drew outcry from local election officials.

Iowa: Armed with face masks and hand sanitizer, voters cast their primary ballots | Ian Richardson/Des Moines Register

Jan Hall has been voting in person for more than six decades, and she wasn’t going to let a pandemic stop her from doing it again. The 85-year-old Des Moines resident was among a steady trickle of voters filing in and out of the South Side Senior Center on Tuesday morning, where approximately 120 people had cast their primary votes in the first two hours, slightly above poll workers’ expectations. “I like the idea of going to a polling place and writing my vote on a ballot and putting it in a machine and knowing that it’s being counted,” she said. “I’ve got my mask on. I’ll be fine.” Cloth masks were standard for many of those who entered the polling places Tuesday morning. Poll workers also wore masks or face shields. It’s one of many precautions taken to protect voters casting their ballots in person amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Iowa: Absentee ballot requests spike as Iowans prepare to vote by mail in June primary elections | Brianne Pfannenstiel/Des Moines Register

Iowans are preparing to vote from home in historic numbers as concerns linger about the spread of the novel coronavirus, numbers from the Secretary of State’s office show. As of Tuesday, 49,325 people have requested absentee ballots — surpassing the 44,016 people who requested ballots during the entire 2016 primary. In the 2018 primary, 55,421 people requested absentee ballots. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said in a statement that he’s confident in county auditors and their staffs’ ability to respond to the increased requests. “They’ve done a great job responding to the ballot requests so far,” he said. “It’s also important to keep in mind that while these numbers are high for a primary election, auditors process many more absentee ballot requests in the typical general election. County election officials are handling this situation well, and my office is here to assist them with anything they need.” Pate is among only a handful of Republican secretaries of state to expand early and absentee voting options ahead primary elections in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Iowa: Election officials pushing vote by mail for June primary | Erin Murphey/Sioux City Journal

There will be a June 2 primary election in Iowa, state and local elections officials pledge. But those officials are encouraging Iowa voters to submit their ballots early through the mail in order to sidestep voting in-person on Election Day while the state may still be dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic. So serious is he about encouraging Iowans to vote by mail that Secretary of State Paul Pate, the state’s top elections official, plans to mail every registered Iowa voter an absentee ballot request form for the June primary. Pate even considered going to a 100 percent vote-by-mail election. He shelved that idea for the June primary, but it remains on the table for the November general election, if the virus is still spreading in Iowa this fall. “We’ve had to adapt,” Pate said. “It’s very fluid.” Iowa’s June 2 primary election features multiple competitive federal races. Five Democrats seek their party’s nomination in the state’s U.S. Senate race — the winner will face Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. In western Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, four Republicans are challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King. And in eastern Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, two Republicans seek the nomination in what will be an open-seat race in the fall.

Iowa: Secretary of State will mail every registered voter a ballot request form for June primary | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office will mail every registered voter in Iowa an absentee ballot request form ahead of the state’s June 2 primary, it announced Tuesday. The plan to send ballot request forms to 2 million Iowans comes as concerns about in-person voting have mounted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other states have moved their primary dates back out of fear of spreading the virus as people gather at polling sites. Iowa’s June 2 primary is scheduled to go forward as planned, but Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is encouraging Iowans to vote by mail to reduce the spread of the virus. Last week, Pate extended the early voting period for mailed ballots to 40 days, up from 29. That means Iowans will be able to cast mailed ballots beginning on April 23. “The safety of voters while casting their ballots is our top priority,” Pate said in a news release. “The June 2 primary election will go on as scheduled because it’s important for Iowans to make their voices heard by voting. The safest way to vote will be by mail.” The ballot request forms will be sent as one mass mailing in mid- to late April, Pate said, and will include prepaid postage for return mailing to county auditors. Pate encouraged Iowans who hadn’t done so to register to vote or update their address so the form will be sent to the right location. Voters can register online.  Iowans can also download the ballot request form online at the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Iowa: $1 million available to Iowa county auditors for cybersecurity | James Q. Lynch/Sioux City Journal

Secretary of State Paul Pate is asking Iowa county auditors to do a “walk-through” of their systems to make sure they are secure ahead of the 2020 elections. Pate is telling auditors that his office will provide $1 million to assist them with cybersecurity resources ahead of the elections. “It’s like we are asking them to walk through their house to see if any windows or doors have been left open,” Pate said Thursday before meeting with the auditors who were in Des Moines. During the next few weeks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the state Office of the Chief Information Officer will conduct scans of all 99 counties’ websites and internal systems to look for vulnerabilities. That could be outdated equipment and software, for example, said Jeff Franklin, Pate’s chief cybersecurity officer. Solutions may include replacing equipment and software, and separating critical infrastructure from non-critical systems, he said. Following the scans, the Secretary of State’s Office will make an initial investment of $1 million to help cover the expenses of recommended upgrades.

Iowa: Caucus app chaos shows why American elections should stay analog for now | Brinkwire

Like everything created by humans, code has flaws. One major way to defend against potential problems brought on by the flaws is testing an app before you use it. Unfortunately, it seems like the Iowa Democratic Party did little in the way of testing the app it used to track results from the Iowa caucuses, wreaking havoc on the tenuous Democratic presidential-nominating process. “The situation in Iowa makes the average voter’s confidence in the election process worse than before,” said Ron Gula, a former National Security Agency (NSA) white hat hacker who now invests in startup cybersecurity firms. “Whether or not they might believe the Russians hacked the election before, this is another thing that will make them go ‘wow, we really don’t trust this.’ It’s not a great situation for voter confidence in general.” This was a screw up on a state level, a state that happens to hold a lot of significance for U.S. democracy. “The situation with Iowa’s caucus reveals the risks associated with technology, in this case with a mobile app, but more importantly that there needs to be a low-tech solution in order to recover from technological failures — no matter the cause,” said Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, in a statement to Digital Trends. Verified Voting is a voting accuracy nonprofit that works to eliminate or reduce the use of systems that “cannot be audited or secured, such as internet voting.” Schneider noted it was lucky that Iowa kept paper records of the vote. “It’s clear that mobile apps are not ready for prime time,” she said.

Iowa: Caucus Meltdown Proved Transparency Is Essential, Election-Watchers Say | Miles Parks/NPR

As the Democratic primary season rolls on, one big lesson already is sinking in from the party’s caucus-night meltdown in Iowa: Secrecy isn’t a strategy. State Democratic chair Troy Price declined to answer questions a month ago about what sorts of tests were conducted on the smartphone app the party was planning to use on caucus night or detail backup plans should it fail. But he did promise some sort of transparency. “We’ll be able to give a preview to the press of what the app will look like in the days leading up to the caucuses,” Price said in mid-January, in his first interview about the app, with NPR and Iowa Public Radio. That preview never happened. And the reporting system then failed in a major way. The state party announced over the weekend that it was still adjusting results for 3 percent of the state’s total precincts, and updating its projected national delegate allocations.

Iowa: What the Iowa Caucus Tells Us About Cavalier Approaches to Technology | Cillian Kieran/CPO Magazine

As details emerge about the tech issues that have delayed the results of the Iowa caucus and thrown the public into states of confusion and frustration, I marvel at the familiarity of the story to anyone who has spent long enough working on the front lines of enterprise technology. It should be noted that the dust is still settling on events in the Hawkeye State, and so it may be a few more days until we know with absolute certainty what transpired and how exactly, in 2020, the results of the caucus are taking longer to arrive than in pre-internet days. But reports so far focus on the haphazard roll-out of a new voting app designed to facilitate (ostensibly) the transmission of results from caucus locations to centralized election monitors. A number of problems appear to have occurred with this process – ranging from caucus-site volunteers being unable to log-in to report results to rumored compromising by outside parties to scramble the results-logging process. Whatever the final assessment, it’s certainly not too early to call this a disaster, with a bungled roll-out as catalyst.

Iowa: How Acronym Pitched Itself to Potential Investors: “We Don’t Do Hyperbole. We Call BS.” | Ali Breland/Mother Jones

The letter was sent to prospective investors not long ago, the prose so redolent of disruptomatic DC consultant patter that lanyards practically hang from every word. “We don’t do hyperbole,” it reads. “We call BS. We say when our programs work. We say when they don’t because being dishonest or evasive tells us you have something to hide.” It goes on a little later: “Just don’t measure our success by how many Politico articles we’re mentioned in. You’ll be disappointed.” The letter, obtained by Mother Jones, was likely sent in 2018 on behalf of a nonprofit called Acronym, which today is infamous for having launched the tech company that launched the app that launched the Iowa Democratic caucuses into a days-long spectacle of incompetence. In the days since the caucuses went sideways in part because of its undertested app, Acronym has been evasive, if not dishonest. It has been mentioned in at least a dozen Politico articles, and indeed no one has taken the media attention as a measure of Acronym’s success.

Iowa: How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats | Reid J. Epstein, Sydney Ember, Trip Gabriel and Mike Baker/The New York Times

The first signs of trouble came early. As the smartphone app for reporting the results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses began failing last Monday night, party officials instructed precinct leaders to move to Plan B: calling the results into caucus headquarters, where dozens of volunteers would enter the figures into a secure system. But when many of those volunteers tried to log on to their computers, they made an unsettling discovery. They needed smartphones to retrieve a code, but they had been told not to bring their phones into the “boiler room” in Des Moines. As a torrent of results were phoned in from school gymnasiums, union halls and the myriad other gathering places that made the Iowa caucuses a world-famous model of democracy, it soon became clear that the whole process was melting down. Volunteers resorted to passing around a spare iPad to log into the system. Melissa Watson, the state party’s chief financial officer, who was in charge of the boiler room, did not know how to operate a Google spreadsheet application used to input data, Democratic officials later acknowledged.

Iowa: The Iowa Caucuses App Had Another Problem: It Could Have Been Hacked | Jack Gillum and Jessica Huseman/ProPublica

A glitch in the smartphone app used to count and report votes from individual precincts continues to delay results from Monday’s Iowa caucuses. But a closer look shows that the app had a potentially graver problem that apparently did not come into play: its vulnerability to hacking. The IowaReporterApp was so insecure that vote totals, passwords and other sensitive information could have been intercepted or even changed, according to officials at Massachusetts-based Veracode, a security firm that reviewed the software at ProPublica’s request. Because of a lack of safeguards, transmissions to and from the phone were left largely unprotected. Chris Wysopal, Veracode’s chief technology officer, said the problems were elementary. He called it a “poor decision” to release the software without first fixing them. “It is important for all mobile apps that deal with sensitive data to have adequate security testing, and have any vulnerabilities fixed before being released for use,” he said. The weaknesses reinforce concerns about political parties managing elections, especially in an era of heightened sensitivity to digital security issues — and about the Iowa Democratic Party’s actions in particular. Party officials, who touted the new technology as a fast way to tally votes, may have given short shrift to assuring not only the app’s effectiveness but also its security, experts said.

Iowa: Democrats to undergo independent review of caucus chaos | Thomas Beaumont and Seth Borenstein/Associated Press

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price, under immense pressure following the state’s presidential caucus debacle, said Friday that an independent review will determine what caused the problems that led to a dayslong delay in reporting the results, inconsistencies in the numbers and no clear winner. “We will be undergoing an independent, forensic review,” Price told reporters Friday in Des Moines. “What went right? What went wrong? Start to finish.” But almost nothing went right Monday night, first when an app local Democratic volunteers were to use to report the results from almost 1,700 precincts failed, and then when a massive backlog of phone reports and inquiries followed. It brought the reporting of the results of the leadoff presidential nominating contest to a standstill. It took until Thursday for the state party, which operates the series of statewide political meetings, to issue what it said are complete results.

Iowa: Docs: Shadow Inc. Directly Tied to Left-Wing Media Operation | Anna Merlan and Tim Marchman/VICE

A company called Shadow earned instant infamy this week when an app it created to tabulate the results of the Iowa caucuses led to a statewide meltdown that has thrown the Democratic presidential campaign into disarray. In the wake of that disaster, a lot of people have a lot of questions about Acronym, a well-connected startup that’s tied to but has distanced itself from Shadow. This week, Acronym founder Tara McGowan put out a statement describing Shadow as an independent company and Acronym as a mere investor; she also reportedly reached out to major Democratic donors like Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams to do damage control over Acronym’s role in the Iowa fiasco, and disclaimed any “day-to-day engagement with Shadow business.” A June 2019 draft business plan for Acronym written by McGowan and obtained by VICE, though, shows the companies as thoroughly entwined, with Shadow playing a key role in Acronym’s plans. As has been previously reported, Acronym’s goal is to create a pipeline pouring propaganda favorable to Democrats and liberal causes into swing states, ostensibly to combat the right wing’s significantly more advanced media machine, which among other things comprises Fox News, Breitbart, and other operations advancing Republican interests. The document shows the news-like sites that comprise that pipeline as connected not just to Acronym and a Democratic consulting firm called Lockwood Strategies, but to Shadow itself, with an organizational chart showing ties between Shadow and the “national editorial team” of Acronym’s news operations.

Iowa: Caucus app is latest example of politicos building faulty technology with disastrous results | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The Iowa caucus debacle is just the latest example of politicos building faulty technology — with serious political consequences. Professional technologists shuddered at the apparent incompetence and hubris as details emerged yesterday about the Iowa Democratic party rushing a contract for its caucus results app with a little-known tech company founded by veterans of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, pushing the app out faster than it could be responsibly built and rejecting opportunities for testing and security vetting. The resulting implosion of the app from Shadow Inc. on the first vote of 2020 undermined faith in the electoral process just as Democratic party leaders were trying to restore it. The country is still waiting for the full results. “The most important lesson anyone should take away from this is that if you’re going to use a new technology that you need to very rigorously test it and exercise it and plan for what your backup will be if it fails,” Eric Rosenbach, a former top Pentagon official who leads the Defending Digital Democracy program at Harvard University, told me. “That didn’t happen here, which is disappointing,” he said. “That’s not something that’s good for democracy.” The high-profile coding error, which produced inconsistencies in reported caucus results, was reminiscent of other times when the government or campaigns built digital tools — but the hard work of getting the tech right took a backseat to other priorities.

Iowa: Maker of glitchy Iowa caucus app has Democratic Party ties | Michael Biesecker and Brian Slodysko/Associated Press

The little-known technology start-up under scrutiny after the meltdown of the Iowa Democratic caucuses on Monday was founded little more than a year ago by veterans of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign who had presented themselves as gurus of campaigning in the digital era. Shadow Inc. was picked in secret by the Iowa Democratic Party after its leaders consulted with the Democratic National Committee on vetting vendors and security protocols for developing a phone app used to gather and tabulate the caucus results. Party officials in Iowa blamed an unspecified “coding issue” with the software that led to it producing only partial and unreliable results. It did not identify the firm that produced the technology, but campaign disclosure reports show that the Iowa party paid $63,000 to Shadow in late 2019. After the company came under withering criticism on social media Tuesday, it issued a series of tweets that expressed “regret” over technical glitches which contributed to a delay in the release of results, but stopped short of apologizing.

Iowa: Here’s the Shadow Inc. App That Failed in Iowa Last Night | Jason Koebler and Emanuel Maiberg/VICE

Jonathan Green said that everything was going well until he had to use the IowaReporterApp. “On the ground, it went great,” Green, the chair of the Democractic presidential primary caucuses in Iowa’s Fremont Township and Lone Tree precincts and an IT systems administrator for a financial services firm, said. “I got pissed off four years ago at how my precinct was run, which is why I volunteered to do it this time around,” he said. “We had 113 people and everyone was pleasant. I had to recruit a secretary once we were going—I couldn’t find one ahead of time. Everyone was patient and in good cheer. I know that’s not likely the case today. My girlfriend, especially, is distraught. She has poured her life and soul into this thing, and for naught.” Green, like many other precinct chairs, faced problems reporting the results of the caucus to Iowa’s Democratic Party using the app. Due to a coding error, the app, created by a company called Shadow Inc., wasn’t reporting the correct data, according to the Iowa Democratic Party. The error resulted in the Democrats delaying all public reporting of the results of Monday’s caucuses, and has sown chaos and confusion in a hotly contested and deeply important primary.