The Nightmare of Technology: Blame the App, Not the Iowans

The Iowa Caucus is over. There will be no more political flyers in the mail.  The Democratic candidates have flown to New Hampshire.  

There is a residue of depression.  “People are unusually quiet at the office,” a friend says.

Before the app scandal, the Democrats were exhilarated.  They thronged to the caucuses Monday night. They were psyched about their candidates.  To a man, they praised the newly-organized caucuses, which, for the first time, had paper backup:  caucus-goers filled out cards with detailed information on first and final alignment, to support the head count by precinct captains.

At home later, they sat down in front of the TV news–only to learn there were no results.  An app had malfunctioned.

Iowa caucus registration.

The chair of the Iowa Democratic party apologized for the defective app. But the results came in so much later than anyone thought.  Not available in toto  the next day, nor the next, nor the next…and on Friday, last time I checked, 99% were tallied, with Bernie and Pete declared the winners. 

The scandal rages on. And the DNC has not only rapped Iowa on the knuckles for buying a faulty app, but has threatened to kill the Iowa Caucus.

Instead of blaming the Iowans for an app that didn’t provide the  promised results, shouldn’t the focus be on the company that made it and the problems with the technology?

Ballots and tech so often go wrong, even in low-tech elections.   Remember the presidential election of 2000, when Al Gore was declared the winner, and then the Republicans insisted that George W. Bush had won?  This battle went on for months.  If I recall correctly, some votes in Florida were disqualified because of “hanging chads” on the ballot.  And Florida, where Jeb Bush was governor, determined the winner.

Elections are a hassle.  At the general elections here, I have long doubted that my vote gets counted.  Why?   I cannot color inside the lines of the bubbles on the old-fashioned multiple-choice-style ballots, because of a hand tremor, a side effect of a medication.  There are strict directions about keeping inside the lines.

The system of voting, tech, and ballots needs to be examined, whether at the caucuses, the primaries, or general elections.  And by all means, continue the caucus if the Iowans want it.  They devised the system, and the first caucus was held in 1972.