The Nevada Democratic Party won’t say for sure whether results from Saturday’s caucuses will be released on the same day that votes are cast. They’re reminding people that it takes time to count votes and more time to report the results.
But the operation they’ve set up will guarantee screw-ups somewhere along the way, given the technology involved and the simple fact that most volunteers who will be responsible for turning the results in to state party headquarters will be untrained in how to do it.
Election officials, in general, have been raising concerns about public expectations to report results quickly, noting that totals reported on Election Day are unofficial. It takes weeks for votes to become official, after the results are checked and any irregularities are investigated. Election experts say it’s better to slow down reporting if problems surface to ensure results are accurate.
“If they set up expectations now, that’s a lot better than bungling the reporting like they did in Iowa and have everybody question what happened,” said Lawrence Norden, an elections expert with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School.
Expectations of a clusterfark won’t lessen the humiliation when it happens. But at least we won’t be surprised when mass confusion and chaos reign, right?
Is this really the best that a political party with tons of money and the best 21st-century technology at its disposal can do?
Nevada Democrats were going to use the same mobile app developer as Iowa, but quickly sidelined those plans. Instead, they will deploy party-owned, internet-connected iPads to precincts that will come with a Google form that will be used to access early vote totals, perform calculations during the caucus process and, ultimately, submit results electronically to the party.
The Google app and iPads are trusted commercial tech tools, but election experts have warned that developing and deploying any technology late in the process increases the risk of problems. Hundreds of volunteers need training, and the technology must also be field-tested.
Well, that sounds almost reasonable. But does it work?
As far as reporting the results, they are making it unnecessarily complicated. “Party officials have emphasized that a multistep process will be used to verify results that will include calling in results to a secure hotline and a paper worksheet that will be completed at each precinct and delivered to a party office.”
A “paper worksheet”? Will they have a horse and buggy deliver it to the office?
So how’s the training going?
Tuesday was the first time any in-person training for volunteers was held involving the iPad and the Google form, according to Seth Morrison, a volunteer who will be leading a site with six precincts on Saturday. Morrison attended the training in Las Vegas and said two of the three iPads at the location failed initially to power on. Only four other volunteers were present.
Morrison said he thought the Google form was easy to use but expressed concern for those who may not be able to attend the training and for those who may not be tech-savvy.
Well, that’s not good. Only four volunteers for six precincts bothered to show up. Yikes.
There’s early-voting in Nevada — something they didn’t have in Iowa — which is almost sure to bollix things up even more. There are math problems for the precinct chairs to solve in order to apportion the correct number of delegates to the right candidate.
If I were going to watch the results come in, I’d brew a strong pot of black coffee and maybe have a case of Red Bull on hand because it’s going to be a long, dark night for Democrats in Nevada this Saturday.
Editor’s note: PJ Media will bring you live results from the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, powered by Decision Desk HQ.