Microsoft has teamed up with Internology to create a series of innovative new apps that will assist Iowa’s 1,784 precincts in speedily reporting results on Caucus day. These apps, which are available on Apple, Android, and Microsoft platforms, will help precincts speed up and simplify reporting of caucus results, which have been criticized for being slow and inaccurate in previous Caucuses. Another set of apps specifically designed for each party will allow party leaders to independently verify results as they are reported. In the old system of results reporting, precincts used automated phone systems that required users to dial in results to party headquarters. As a backup, paper ballots were sent by mail. That system has created numerous reporting errors in past Caucuses, since individual precincts had no unified results verification system.
Microsoft’s new applications allow both Democrats and Republicans to report their results securely and accurately, according to each party’s unique Caucus rules. Another app will allow reporters and the general public to view results precinct-by-precinct as they come in. Anomalous results are flagged by Microsoft’s app and are sent to the respective party’s chairman to review. A variety of other safety measures are in place to ensure that each precinct reviews and reports their results as accurately as possible. Paper ballots will still be used as a safety-net, though it takes up to two days for those ballots to be counted and verified. Party leaders have maintained that accuracy will supersede timeliness, and no results will be reported until they have been fully implemented, even if that means no winners will be announced on the day of the Caucus.
Training workshops for precinct captains is already underway, with Microsoft sending their experts to each precinct to ensure the technology will be fully implemented on February 1st. Microsoft will not disclose the cost to make and manage the app and the results, however they made clear that neither the parties nor the state of Iowa funded the project.