caucus election

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Wyoming: Democrats suspend in-person voting for caucuses as election officials face coronavirus fears | Hannah Knowles and John Wagner/The Washington Post

The Wyoming Democratic Party says it is suspending the in-person part of its April 4 presidential caucuses as election officials around the country confront the risk of the novel coronavirus. The party said on Facebook that it is also suspending all county conventions. “Our priority is ensuring that people are healthy and safe,” party chair Joe Barbuto said in a statement. “Holding public events right now would put that in jeopardy, so this is the responsible course of action.” Voters are being encouraged to vote by mail, the party said, adding that, as of now, ballot drop-off locations will be open on March 28 and April 4. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by March 20. Louisiana leaders on Friday announced they are delaying the state’s primary until the summer, while election officials in the four states slated to hold primaries Tuesday — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — said in a joint statement that they remain confident voters can “safely and securely cast their ballots in this election.” They encouraged “otherwise healthy” poll workers to carry out their duties.

Full Article: Campaign 2020 live updates: ‘Virtual’ campaign gets underway between Biden and Sanders ahead of Sunday’s debate - The Washington Post.

Nevada: Caucus chaos again? Experts fear vote-counting problems in Nevada | Adam Edelman/NBC

A new early-voting system, high turnout and questions about a never-before-used digital tool being used to process results could threaten the success of the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday, election experts told NBC News. “I don’t see how any technologist or any party official or any political scientist can promise that this will turn out OK,” said Mark Lindeman, the director of science and technology policy for Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit group that advocates for election accuracy and transparency. “There are too many tools and procedures that are being rolled out, some at the last minute,” he continued. “And my impression is that the people on the ground who are charged with implementing these procedures and using these tools are not confident they can do it.” Lindeman added, “I hope that it goes better than Iowa, but it is definitely at risk for similar reasons.”

Full Article: Caucus chaos again? Experts fear vote-counting problems in Nevada.

Nevada: Will there be more presidential caucus chaos? ‘Nevada is just praying’ | Seema Mehta and Matt Pearce/Los Angeles Times

Dozens of Democratic volunteers scurried around Doña Maria Mexican Restaurant in polite pandemonium last week as they staged a mock caucus to prepare for the real thing on Saturday in Nevada. A dining area filled with cries of “Salma Hayek!” “Jennifer Lopez!” “Salma Hayek!” as the volunteers playfully grouped themselves by favorite celebrity rather than by favorite candidate to familiarize themselves with the state’s caucus process. That was the fun part. But when it came time to actually count votes — not a mere act of addition but a whole range of subtraction, multiplication and division to award delegates — the room fell quiet as participants stared at a whiteboard spreadsheet more than eight columns wide. The complexity of Nevada’s new rules, which now include adding absentee early voters to the mix, had set in. Democratic officials and campaigns in Nevada are desperately hoping to avoid another caucus meltdown like the one this month in Iowa, where campaigns devoted millions of dollars and deployed hundreds of volunteers in the hopes of emerging as clear winners, only to see the results delayed, misreported and still under challenge of recount. In recent weeks, the Nevada Democratic Party ditched a new app it had planned to use to report results and trained caucus volunteers on new procedures. Meanwhile, campaigns pressured party officials behind the scenes to release more information about how, exactly, the state planned to avoid a retread of the Iowa fiasco. “Everybody in Nevada is just praying and focused on not being Iowa,” said Tick Segerblom, a commissioner in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. “I think we’ve learned our lesson.”

Full Article: Will there be more presidential caucus chaos? 'Nevada is just praying' - Los Angeles Times.

Nevada: In Nevada, a last-minute scramble to make voting tech work | Reed Albergotti/The Washington Post

As early voting came to a close here Tuesday evening, a small group of caucus volunteers waited in the parking lot of a dimly lit strip mall to get a hands-on demonstration of the software they would use to tally votes during Saturday’s Democratic caucus. “This will not be like Iowa,” one of the volunteers said defiantly, referring to the caucus process in that state roiled by technological mishaps. She said she was determined to learn how the software worked and avert any embarrassing glitches. She asked not to be named for fear of upsetting party officials here. As Democratic presidential hopefuls campaign here, the role of technology has hung like a cloud over the process that will help determine the party’s nominee. Nevada’s place early on in the presidential nominating process is a point of pride in this fast-growing Western state. And everyone from volunteers to party officials to ordinary voters is hoping it doesn’t turn into an embarrassment. Nevada’s Democratic Party, which runs the caucus, had planned to use software developed by the same company behind Iowa’s botched caucus app. Nevada had less than three weeks to put a new system in place, a rush to the finish line that also contributed to Iowa’s problems.

Full Article: What software will be used for the Nevada caucus? - The Washington Post.

Nevada: ‘A complete disaster’: Fears grow over potential Nevada caucus malfunction | Laura Barrón-López

The process will break down like this: On caucus day, each precinct chair will be given a party-purchased iPad that will have a link to a Google form — dubbed a “caucus calculator” — saved on it. Pre-loaded on the form will be the early vote total from that precinct. The precinct chair will then input vote totals after the first and second votes. Under caucus rules, voters choose their preferred candidate at the outset, known as the first alignment. But if their candidate fails to reach 15 percent, they can switch to a different candidate, or seek to persuade supporters of another candidate who fails to reach 15 percent to help their candidate clear that threshold during the second alignment. The prompts on the Google form are expected to look similar to how they appear on the physical caucus reporting sheet. When the first and second alignments are completed, the totals will be relayed over the cloud to the Nevada Democratic Party via the Google form, which on the back end appears as a Google spreadsheet. Separately, the precinct chair or site lead will take the printed caucus reporting sheets — each campaign must sign off on them first — and call the Nevada Democratic Party boiler room via a secure hotline. (Site leads oversee multiple precinct chairs in caucusing at a single large location.)

Full Article: ‘A complete disaster’: Fears grow over potential Nevada caucus malfunction - POLITICO.

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.

Full Article: Iowa caucus app chaos shows why American elections should stay analog for now – Brinkwire.

Nevada: Democrats scramble to avoid Iowa-like chaos as Democratic caucuses approach | Kari Paul/The Guardian

Democratic party officials in Nevada are rushing to avoid the fate of Iowa, where technological and organizational failure left the first caucus in the 2020 presidential race without a clear winner. Nevada Democratic party officials had initially planned to rely on the same app that caused chaos in Iowa to transfer results from local precincts during the caucus on 22 February. But during the Iowa vote, a “coding issue” caused the app, developed haphazardly and on a low budget by the tech firm Shadow, to report only partial data from the state’s 1,700 caucus sites. Spotty cellphone coverage in some voting locations, poor training of some caucus volunteers and troubles with a backup phone line to report results compounded the chaos. Following the Iowa caucus, Nevada officials said they were determined to avoid similar problems. “NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada,” the state Democratic party chair, William McCurdy II, said in a statement at the time. Since then, it has been difficult to pin down the Nevada Democratic party regarding what process it will use instead. It did not respond to the Guardian’s requests for comment and its website includes no information on the topic.

Full Article: Nevada scrambles to avoid Iowa-like chaos as Democratic caucuses approach | US news | The Guardian.

Nevada: Democrats Say They’ll Replace Their Caucus App With iPads And A Google Form | Kaleigh Rogers/FiveThirtyEight

In just two days, Nevadans will begin early voting in the state’s Democratic caucuses. For the past few weeks, it’s been unclear how those votes would be integrated into the overall vote tallies after Nevada Democrats were spooked by the chaos in Iowa’s Democratic primary and decided to toss a previous plan to use an app. But today, the state Democratic party revealed how it intends to incorporate those early votes into the live caucuses on Feb. 22: “a simple, user-friendly calculator.” What that means, exactly, is still a bit unclear. In a memo sent to campaigns Thursday and shared with FiveThirtyEight, the party wrote that “the caucus calculator will only be used on party-purchased iPads provided to trained precinct chairs and accessed through a secure Google web form.” The memo didn’t provide any specifics about whether the calculator would be accessed through the Google form, or whether the Google form itself is the calculator. It’s also not clear if early-vote tallies will live on the web, or if they’ll be pre-loaded onto each district’s iPad. The state party did not immediately respond to our request for further comment.

Full Article: Nevada Democrats Say They’ll Replace Their Caucus App With iPads And A Google Form | FiveThirtyEight.

Nevada: First test of Nevada Democrats’ new caucus plan arrives as early vote begins | Megan Messerly/Nevada Independent

Nevada Democrats will head to early voting sites across the state on Saturday — from the Old Post Office in Fallon to the Chinatown Plaza Mall in Las Vegas — to begin casting their presidential preferences ahead of the state’s Feb. 22 caucus. In some ways, it’s an exciting moment for Democrats here in the Silver State: Never before have they been able to participate early in the state’s presidential caucus, as they will over a four-day period. In others, it’s a nerve-wracking one: No one quite knows if the new process the party has quickly re-designed in the wake of Iowa’s problem-plagued contest earlier this month is going to work. What they do know is that beginning Saturday, Nevada Democrats, or those wishing to re-register as a Democrat, will show up at roughly 80 sites across the state to cast their early caucus votes. Once voters are there, a volunteer will check a PDF voter roll to confirm their registration, or direct them to fill out a voter registration form if they aren’t, since Democrats here allow same-day registration for the caucus. From there, they’ll check in on an iPad through Google Forms and be given a paper scannable ballot, similar to a Scantron, where they will be asked to mark a minimum of three and up to five presidential preferences in order. Once they’re done, that ballot and a paper voter card, both of which contain a unique voter PIN to match the ballot to the person, will be placed into a secure ballot box, which will be taken to a designated ballot processing hub to be scanned.

Full Article: First test of Nevada Democrats’ new caucus plan arrives as early vote begins.

Nevada: Volunteers and campaigns worry about results reporting ahead of Nevada caucuses | Holmes Lybrand, Dianne Gallagher, Pamela Kirkland and Dan Merica/CNN

With the Nevada Democratic caucuses only a week away, both caucus workers and presidential campaigns are worried about the lack of detail the state party is providing about how the results reporting process will work. The worries come after the state party stopped working with Shadow Inc., the company behind the app whose “coding errors” were at the heart of the chaos of the Iowa caucuses. Having scrapped plans to use a pair of Shadow’s apps, the parties will instead use a “caucus calculator,” as outlined in a new memo released by the Nevada State Democratic Party Thursday. Described as “user friendly,” the calculator will be used to add early voting data into each precinct and calculate totals on caucus day, February 22, along with paper work sheets. The tool, which the party does not consider an app, will be available on iPads owned by the party and “accessed through a secure Google web form.” A similar memo was sent to the presidential campaigns on Monday.

Full Article: Volunteers and campaigns worry about results reporting ahead of Nevada caucuses - CNNPolitics.

Nevada: Democrats lay out new plan for caucuses, trying to alleviate growing concerns about the process | Holly Bailey and Isaac Stanley-Becker/The Washington Post

After scrapping a pair of apps similar to the one that caused chaos in Iowa, the Nevada State Democratic Party said it would use paper ballots and an online check-in process in its presidential caucuses, a plan unlikely to end growing concerns about the coming vote. In a memo distributed to representatives of the 2020 campaigns on Monday night, party officials outlined several new procedures for early caucusing, set to begin Saturday. Among them was the use of an online Google check-in form designed to help party officials “track participants and streamline data collection” and the assignment of a numeric “voter PIN” and separate identification number tied to state voter registration to help route a participant’s ballot to their home precinct. The plan comes a week after Nevada Democrats were forced to rip up their caucus plans in the aftermath of Iowa’s disastrous caucus result. The party had been set to use two specially designed apps developed by political technology firm Shadow, the same company that designed the vote-recording app blamed for reporting issues in Iowa. But experts warned that this new proposal would leave the caucuses vulnerable to big security threats. They said, too, that they were puzzled by how the plan would work.

Full Article: Nevada Democrats lay out new plan for caucuses, trying to alleviate growing concerns about the process - The Washington Post.

Nevada: Democrats Test a Caucus Plan ‘Without Something You Can Download on Your Phone’ | Jennifer Medina/The New York Times

After abandoning plans to use the same kind of app that led to a debacle in Iowa, Nevada Democratic officials are testing backup plans this weekend as they attempt to come up with a clear alternative for their own state caucus, which begins in less than two weeks. Though party leaders in Nevada are now vowing not to use any kind of app to tally the results of their Feb. 22 caucus, it remains unclear what they will put in their place. “We are not using an app, we are not using something you can download on your phone,” said Alana Mounce, the executive director of the Nevada Democrats. But what they will use instead is still unknown and presidential campaigns are increasingly anxious about what will happen when early voting begins next weekend. The Nevada Democrats began testing backup procedures Friday, but state party officials declined to give any details on what they were testing, other than to say that it would not be a phone-based app. By Tuesday morning, even before the full scope of the chaos in Iowa had become clear, state party officials scrapped their plans to use an app made by Shadow Inc., the same firm that created a caucus app for Iowa.

Full Article: Nevada Democrats Test a Caucus Plan ‘Without Something You Can Download on Your Phone’ - The New York Times.

Nevada: Democrats debut to volunteers new iPad-based ‘tool’ to calculate math on Caucus Day in the wake of Iowa fiasco | Megan Messerly/Nevada Inpedendent

Nevada Democrats are planning to use a new caucus tool that will be preloaded onto iPads and distributed to precinct chairs to help facilitate the Caucus Day process, according to multiple volunteers and a video recording of a volunteer training session on Saturday. The new tool will help precinct chairs fold in the results from people in their precinct who chose to caucus early with the preferences of in-person attendees on Caucus Day by calculating the viability threshold and carrying out the two alignments in the caucus process, according to the volunteers and the video recording. Details about the tool come two days after Nevada Democrats said that they would not use any apps for their Feb. 22 caucus after a coding error in a similar program used by Iowa Democrats delayed the release of results from that state’s nominating contest earlier this week. In the video, a party staffer tells volunteers that the new mechanism “is not an app” but should be thought of as “a tool.”

Full Article: Nevada Democrats debut to volunteers new iPad-based ‘tool’ to calculate math on Caucus Day in the wake of Iowa fiasco.

National: Caucus Meltdown Tied to Democrats’ Little-Tested Mobile App | Michaela Ross, Kartikay Mehrotra and Chris Strohm/Bloomberg

The breakdown in reporting results from Iowa’s Democratic caucuses appears tied to failures in a mobile application that wasn’t ready for the load of a statewide election and which the head of the Homeland Security Department said wasn’t subjected to a cybersecurity test by his agency. “This is more of a stress or load issue as well as a reporting issue that we’re seeing in Iowa,” acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a Fox News interview Tuesday. Wolf said there’s little evidence of hacking of the app, which precinct officials struggled to use on Monday night. He said that his department’s cyber division had offered to test the software for vulnerabilities but was declined.… But the failure spotlights the need for hard-copy backups across election systems, as a handful of states are still using voting machines that don’t produce a paper receipt, according to Marian Schneider, president of the voting advocacy group Verified Voting and former deputy secretary for elections of Pennsylvania. “It’s clear that mobile apps are not ready for prime time, but thankfully Iowa has paper records of their vote totals and will be able to release the results from those records,” Schneider said.

Full Article: Iowa Caucus Meltdown Tied to Democrats’ Little-Tested Mobile App.

Iowa: Caucus debacle shakes public confidence in 2020 security | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The biggest security lesson from last night’s Iowa caucuses: It doesn’t take a hack for technology to undermine confidence in an election. The spectacular failure of a mobile app that was supposed to forward caucus results last night — which are still not out, as of this morning — is a striking example of how faulty technology can spark questions about election results and create an opening for misinformation and conspiracy theories. “These kinds of technical issues and operational delays play right into the game plan of malicious actors,” Maurice Turner, an election security expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told me. “[They] can leverage these small facts and turn them into viral misinformation messages speculating about hacking or corruption being behind the irregularities.”  The Democratic Party have surged its focus on cybersecurity to combat foreign interference by Russia or other actors that U.S. intelligence officials warn may seek a repeat of 2016. While an Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman insisted the app “did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion,” the technical snags largely achieved the effects officials have long sought to avoid. Even candidates questioned whether the results were tainted: Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign complained about “considerable flaws” in the reporting system and demanded an explanation of the app’s quality controls before any results were released publicly.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Iowa caucus debacle shakes public confidence in 2020 security - The Washington Post.

Iowa: Democrats Should Have Known Better Than To Use An App | Kaleigh Rogers/FiveThirtyEight

More than 14 hours after the Iowa caucuses began, we still don’t have any official results, and it’s becoming clear that an app is at least partly to blame. An app designed to let caucus leaders report results seems to have had problems including user error, lack of connectivity and an insufficient backup plan, demonstrating exactly why it’s so difficult — and risky — to introduce new technology into elections. “Right now, a lot of the election security community is trying to, as nicely as possible, say ‘We told you so,’” said Maggie MacAlpine, a co-founder of Nordic Innovation Labs, a firm of security consultants whose specialties include safeguarding elections. This year, the Iowa Democratic Party, which runs the state’s Democratic caucuses, introduced a smartphone app that local precinct chairs could use to send in tallies from their caucus sites. Immediately, election security experts raised concerns because the party wouldn’t reveal who built the app, what testing had been done, or who they had consulted to make sure it was secure. The party insisted, however, that thorough security measures had been put in place, and besides, precinct chairs could always fall back on the reporting technology they’ve been using for decades: a phone-in hotline. One problem: Multiple precinct chairs reported hours-long wait times, and even getting cut off, when they tried to use that hotline.

Full Article: Iowa Democrats Should Have Known Better Than To Use An App | FiveThirtyEight.

Nevada: Democrats won’t use app that caused Iowa caucus fiasco | Adam Edelman/NBC

Nevada’s Democratic Party said Tuesday it will not use the trouble-plagued app that has contributed to ongoing delays in the reporting of results in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Democrats in Nevada had planned to use the app for their caucus on Feb. 22. The same company developed the app for both states. But the state’s Democratic Party said Tuesday that it had previously created backup plans for its reporting systems and was in the process of “evaluating the best path forward.” “NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd. We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II said in a statement.

Full Article: Nevada Democrats won't use app that caused Iowa caucus fiasco.

Nevada: Democrats won’t use app at center of Iowa delays | Chris Mills Rodrigo/The Hill

The Nevada Democratic Party on Tuesday announced that it will not use the election results app that has been blamed for the delay in results from the Iowa caucuses. “NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd. We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy said in a statement. “We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward.” The announcement comes after the results of the Iowa caucuses, which began on Monday at 8 p.m. EST, have yet to be released amid confusion over the app used to transmit results, triggering uproar from supporters and political pundits. The slow rollout has lead many to question Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status. Price told campaigns early Tuesday afternoon that presidential campaigns should expect that a “majority” of the caucus results will be released at 5 p.m. EST, a source on the call told The Hill.

Full Article: Nevada Democrats won't use app at center of Iowa delays | TheHill.

Iowa: Delayed Iowa Caucus Results Lead to Confusion | The New York Times

Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said shortly after 1:00 a.m. Central time that he expected to have caucus results to report “later today” after party officials had manually tallied the data. On a brief conference call with reporters, Mr. Price stressed that the caucus results were being delayed because of problems reporting delegate totals from the more than 1,600 precincts, not because the system had been hacked. “This is taking longer than expected,” he said. “The system is in place to make sure we can report results with full confidence.” Several hours after the caucuses ended, the state party still has not publicly reported any results. Mr. Price did not take questions, and the call ended after he finished reading his statement.

Full Article: 2020 Iowa Caucus Live Updates: Delayed Results Lead to Confusion - The New York Times.

Iowa: Caucus Voting App Stirs Security Concerns | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

Democrats will record the votes from the Iowa presidential caucuses in just over a week using a smartphone app, a procedure that has stirred questions about security. Party leaders said that the mobile app would make it easier and faster to report results from some 1,700 caucus sites. But critics expressed concern about the reliability of the app amid warnings that cyber adversaries could seek to disrupt the 2020 elections. Douglas Jones, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, who has studied election security, called the idea a “security nightmare,” and said that cellphones were difficult to protect against the range of possible threats. The caucus workers will use the app on their personal smartphones, which Mr. Jones said could be vulnerable, depending on how well the workers take care of their devices.

Full Article: Dems’ Iowa Caucus Voting App Stirs Security Concerns - WSJ.