The Iowa Democratic Party tried to use an app to keep track of caucus results last week, and it ... didn't work. At all. Even though the party has awarded delegates based on its demonstrably inaccurate results, the caucus was an undeniable failure.
That disaster turned attention to Nevada, another state that utilizes the much-maligned caucus system. Nevada also had plans to use an app for the Democratic caucus. Since Iowa, however, the state party has reconsidered that plan and decided to do things the old-fashioned way, according to FiveThirtyEight.
They aren't in the clear yet, however. With the caucus less than two weeks away, and previously established plans to use that app for early voting, now the party has to figure out how to adjust — the early voting plans were dependent on having a functioning app, and early voting was supposed to begin Saturday.
There apparently was not a backup plan in place. From FiveThirtyEight:
"They never did address what to do if the app wasn't working, how you would incorporate those early votes," Ruben Murillo Jr., a precinct chair in Nevada, said, adding that he plans to seek further training now that the app has been scrapped.
If the number of people who vote early is small, folding the early votes into the process on caucus day should be fairly easy for the volunteers in charge of the caucuses to handle, according to Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But he said the addition of paper ballots would almost certainly slow down the process — and if the people responsible for the caucus aren't well trained, they could inadvertently reproduce the small but widespread errors that have already been documented in Iowa.
It's likely that all caucus processes are riddled with at least minor errors, but this year's Nevada caucus will face tighter scrutiny from candidates and observers than ever before after what happened in Iowa.
Nevada's 2016 Democratic caucus was not without issues. Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters accused the state party of rigging the process in favor of Hillary Clinton and trying to change the rules. They protested at the state convention, complaining about a lack of transparency in the process.
Those supporters will likely be on edge this year as well, after the questionable Iowa result awarded Pete Buttigieg a narrow victory over Sanders, even though Sanders earned more raw votes than the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor.