Early this month, the 2020 election cycle continued with the controversial Iowa Caucus. The purpose of the Iowa Caucus is for the people of Iowa to get together and discuss who they want to win both the party-based nominations as well as the presidency in general. However, the events that took place demonstrate that the process of voting in the U.S. is much more complicated.
First, caucus-goers assembled into groups and indicate support for candidates. Then, the caucus chairs filled out a worksheet with results. After that, they submited the results. This last part of the process is where the ensuing controversy centered. Two forms of reporting were available: a mobile phone app or a phone hotline. The phone hotline, which had three different numbers and remained backed up, caused minimal problems.
The app, which was at the center of the confusion, was an attempt to revamp the election process. As Vox reports, “The app was designed to help precinct chairs send the results to the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters, but reports that volunteers were unable to download or properly use the app suggest that this new way of doing things did not go smoothly.” The app itself was made by a new wave firm called “Shadow.” The firm is run by former Obama staffer Tara McGowan, who holds close ties to Pete Buttigieg, one of the Democratic candidates who was a frontrunner at the Iowa Caucus.
As NBC reports, “‘It wasn’t the first time an app was used during the caucus. One built by Microsoft and contracted to InterKnowingly was used in 2016 to address reporting issues that surfaced in 2012. It cost at least $600,000 compared to the $60,000 for the Shadow app, and extensive user and usability testing went off without an issue,’ InterKnowingly CEO Rodney Guzman told NBC News. But this time around Microsoft wasn’t interested in resurrecting the app, which would have had to still go through methodical re-testing, so a new developer had to be found.”
Senior political science major Matthew Cole said, “Iowa demonstrates some concerns about electronic voting systems. While there is no evidence that the vote totals were tampered with, the fact that one of the most critical aspects of our democratic system is vulnerable to outside forces should cause some concern.”
Between foreign and domestic meddling in recent years as well as faulty technology, many Americans are wondering if voting is even worth it anymore. Many have been left in a state of powerlessness, and these feelings are only amplified by the continued revelations of political shenanigans. Expressed concern over the integrity of voting is mounting, leading some to stop voting altogether.
With many new voters at JBU entering the process of electing a president, students are not only faced with the decision of who they want in office but also if voting is worth the hassle. Views on voting have soured since the 2016 election, and discussions from the disenfranchisement of citizens of U.S. territories to the rampant gerrymandering issue to felons not having the right to vote have increased drastically.
“The Iowa Caucus is supposed to be indicative of the current race for the Democratic nomination. However, there is no ability to rally around a single candidate or platform, thus, deeming the entire process useless,” Will Kelly, freshman political science major, said. “Iowa, in my opinion, will ultimately not matter in the DNC and general election given the disparity of votes in the Iowa Caucus. There has not been and will not be a clear candidate for the Democratic Party as a result of this caucus.”
Kelly’s thoughts reflect the attitude that many have adopted, opposing caucuses in general. As far as results go, recanvassing efforts have concluded that it was a tie between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg.