The Iowa caucuses are a throwback to the old days of politics: candidates stumping across the state and meeting thousands of people, who then gather in churches and schools to select delegates — a lively process that takes hours.
But this time around, technology is going to force its way into the process.
Both parties have announced new systems to tally the votes during the arcane caucuses. And top party officials will use new apps to report their results to party headquarters in Des Moines during the first-of-the-cycle elections.
The new systems, powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, “was built by the tech giant in collaboration with its partner InterKnowlogy, which also made CNN’s Magic Wall election result reporting tool,” ITWorld reports. “It replaces a set-up that required precinct representatives to call into automated phone systems with no way of authenticating whether the person was authorized to do so and then record votes using their phone’s keypad. Representatives also mailed paper records to the party’s central office.”
That’s right — mailed, as in snail-mailed. That process led to huge problems. In 2012, the state GOP reported that Mitt Romney won the caucuses, which immediately vaulted him into front-runner status. But it turned out two weeks later that Rick Santorum actually won by 34 votes.
What’s more, the state Republican Party never even received results from at least eight precincts.
“I don’t think any of this is being driven by past mistakes,” GOP state party Chairman Jeff Kauffman. “I think this is looking forward and continuing to do everything possible to make sure the rest of the country realizes we deserve to be first in the nation.”
“Microsoft’s new system not only provides for easy transmission of election results, but it also allows party administrators to view results as they come in and will automatically identify potential problem areas. Election officials can then contact the precinct representative to clear anything up. It also means that tech experts will be lending their security know-how to the process, which is a good sign since the Iowa Democrats’ press release announcing the system included spammy advertisements Friday for discount pharmaceuticals,” ITWorld reported.
“No matter where you live in Iowa, the reporting app will provide secure, efficient, and accurate results for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses,” said Andy McGuire, the state’s Democratic Party chairwoman.