Opinion: Lessons to be learned from the Iowa caucuses

Voting

The first votes of the Democratic Presidential Primary were cast in Iowa on Monday, and as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, none of those votes had been reported.

As the nation waited to learn who Iowans favored, it is important not to overlook the other lessons that this process has to offer. The choices that were made leading up to Monday’s failure, and the handling of that failure, reflect poorly on the Iowa Democratic Party, and the U.S. electoral system as a whole.

The underlying issue that caused the delay in reporting is the mobile app the Iowa Democratic Party implemented this year. According to reporting by NBC, coding errors in the app led to issues in the reporting process, although the data entered was accurate. To make matters worse, CNN reported some precinct leaders began noticing issues with the app days before the caucuses, yet it was still used as part of the reporting process when election day came. This insistence on upgrading, updating and technologically integrating our elections isn’t just inconvenient; it’s dangerous. Russian hackers are the least of America’s electoral worries if the technology used in elections can’t operate properly even without malicious interference. While the Iowa Democratic Party did implement paper ballot backups, they did not adequately prepare themselves for those backup ballots to be quickly reported if necessary.

To reiterate, there is no evidence of any misconduct or miscounting of votes at this time, but that didn’t stop Donald Trump Jr. from alleging on Twitter that there was.

“Tens of thousands of ballots all for Joe Biden being shipped to Iowa from Broward County Florida as we speak,” Trump Jr. said.

This irresponsible attempt to spread misinformation gets to the central issue in involving modern technology in our electoral process.

Computers can fail, or get hacked, and the public is painfully aware of it. Long delays in reporting results, which may have been excusable when paper ballots had to be physically delivered and counted, are now considered by many to be evidence of wrongdoing behind the scenes. Having a paper ballot backup system may well be the only factor helping to maintain the legitimacy of the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

To prevent voters from losing total confidence in the integrity of American elections, paper ballots must be federally mandated for every election, in every state. If you agree, contact your state’s congressional delegation, and let them know. You can find their information at www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/.

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