It’s no question the Iowa Democratic Caucus of 2020 was a mess. Reporting was delayed for days and what data did come out is subject to much scrutiny as data sets did not match up. While the 2020 election cycle moves on, many are left wondering what happened?
The simplest answer is that the app developed by former campaign staffers broke. Traditionally, the Iowa Caucus relied on precincts dialing in their results. This year, an external app was used so that election officials could report their results. The app was not previously tested and wasn’t able to handle the volume of submissions. The phone lines were also not equipped to handle the volume of inbound calls from election officials, leaving many people on hold for hours.
Cybersecurity experts are baffled by the lack of testing. The Iowa Democratic Party is reassuring media outlets that no hacking occurred, and the data was not compromised. With such seemingly minimal oversight, it’s hard to trust the future use of such an app. The results of future elections will likely be called into question if efforts to modernize processes aren’t fully vetted. The big world impact could be a continued decline in public trust of elections, which has serious implications.
What the situation in Iowa taught us is that critical voter data is vulnerable when newly developed technology is rushed into use. Unfortunately for the state of Iowa, this snafu has called into question its significance as a gauge for predicting election outcomes.