One month after the Utah presidential caucuses, the state Republican party still has not published its final results as evidence amasses of a breakdown in the party’s new online voting system as well as email and other communication failures. The 22 March caucus, which moved the reliably red state’s place in the presidential calendar up by three months, was notable for Ted Cruz’s lopsided victory and the firewall the establishment Republicans hoped Cruz could establish to block Donald Trump’s path to the nomination. But the caucus also offered the kind of electoral dysfunction that Trump has repeatedly characterized as a “rigged system” – a private party election without state oversight and with little transparency about either its conduct or its exact outcome. … By far the biggest problem to emerge has been a new online voting system that the party hoped would encourage the participation of tens of thousands of extra people, including Mormon missionaries stationed abroad. On the eve of the election, the party told one news outlet that 59,000 had signed up to vote online.
Thereafter, party chair James Evans revised that figure down to 30,000, then to27,000, acknowledging that as many as 13,000 people had tried to sign up but could not because of a variety of technical problems. Up and down the state, voters reported being unable to obtain the 30-character personalized password needed to register to vote online. Others were unable to enter it successfully. “My wife called tech support to get a code issued or reissued and she sat on hold for hours. At one point, a voice came on and said, ‘All our operators are busy, goodbye’. A lot of people had challenges,” said Marc Stallings, a GOP legislative chair in St George in south-western Utah.
… The state party disregarded warnings from prominent computer scientists and from the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which oversees federal certification of voting equipment, that online voting systems are dangerously vulnerable to malware, putting both the integrity and the secrecy of the vote at risk. On the contrary, chairman Evans put out a statement after the election touting what he called the country’s “first completely online presidential election” in which turnout had reached “historical numbers”.
No part of that statement appears to be entirely correct. The caucus was not “completely online” because more than 200,000 people, according to the party, voted at their precincts, more than eight times the number said to have voted over the internet. It was also not a first in the United States, because the Arizona Democratic party experimented with online voting in its 2000 primary, with similarly unsatisfactory results.