Nevada Democrats will not use reporting app that led to Iowa's delayed caucus results

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Nevada Democratic Party said on Tuesday it will not use the same app that led to delayed reporting of Iowa’s Monday presidential caucus results for Nevada’s caucuses on Feb. 22.

The Iowa Democratic Party headquarters are pictured while the wait continues for the final vote tallies of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Caucus in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Brenna Norman

Democratic party officials in Iowa have had to delay announcing the tally of the caucus results after reporting difficulties using the mobile app, developed by tech firm Shadow Inc.

“We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chair 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,” he added.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said the mobile app was recording data accurately but only partial data. He said that the coding problem was fixed and state officials are verifying the app’s data with paper documents.

Monday night’s tech issues, which Iowa officials said were not the result of a hack or any interference, still sowed distrust in the tools used to report results and sparked misinformation about the reasons for the problem.

Online efforts to protect the integrity of the November 2020 election are under particular scrutiny after U.S. intelligence officials said that Russia ran a cyber-influence campaign to attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Shadow said in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday that it regretted the delays in reporting voting results and that the issue did not affect any of the underlying caucus results.

Shadow’s chief executive and chief technology officers are both veterans of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The vendor was launched after digital non-profit Acronym took over the tech platform Groundbase in early 2019. Its website said it sees itself as “building a long-term, side-by-side ‘Shadow’ of tech infrastructure to the Democratic Party and the progressive community at large.”

On Monday, Acronym said it was “eagerly awaiting more information from the Iowa Democratic Party with respect to what happened.”

An aide to Democratic candidate Joe Biden aide told Reuters that the former vice president’s campaign had used Shadow’s services once for a small initiative sending text messages to voters about its campaign kick-off in Philadelphia, but stopped because the company did not meet the campaign’s security standards.

The aide did not provide further details.

Disclosures to the Federal Election Commission show that the Nevada State Democratic Party had paid Shadow $58,000 for “technology services.”

Shadow’s other clients listed in FEC disclosures include Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for “software rights and subscriptions” and former Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand.

Officials in Iowa said that problem on Monday night was “a reporting issue” and not a cyber-security one.

“The app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion,” said Mandy McClure, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party.


Election security expert David O’Berry, the co-founder of PreCog Security, said: “It’s entirely possible it was a glitch of some sort but glitches do not inspire confidence and this is a confidence game.

“When you make people lose confidence in the system, people start questioning the results,” he said.

Jessica Alter, who runs Tech for Campaigns, a nonprofit that helps Democrats with digital strategies, said the episode underscored the need for the party to have a centralized tech arm rather than “rebuilding things by state or campaign.”

On Twitter, a job ad for a “client success representative” role at Shadow shared by job listing site Daybook on Tuesday was met with online ridicule. The same listing can be viewed on Shadow’s website.

“Hey ShadowIncHQ, who got fired?” one user tweeted.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Amanda Becker, Additional reporting by Nandita Bose, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Cynthia Osterman