Key House Republicans criticize Shadow for not testing Iowa app before caucus

Key House Republicans criticize Shadow for not testing Iowa app before caucus

Top Republicans on two key House committees on Thursday condemned the company that built the smartphone app used by the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) to tabulate votes during the Iowa caucuses.

Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos House Republican pushes for bipartisan cooperation on elections during coronavirus crisis Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances MORE (Ill.) and Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersFreshman Dem finds voice in fight against online extremism Lawmakers criticize Trump's slashed budget for key federal cyber agency GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs MORE (Ala.), the top Republicans on the House Administration and Homeland Security Committees, the two House committees with jurisdiction over election security, sent a letter to Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira expressing “grave concern” over the app his company built. 

"In order for democracy to work, Americans must believe the results of their elections, and caucuses, are rock-solid and secure beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Davis and Rogers wrote. “Unfortunately, by choosing not to test your app for any technical glitches prior to its roll-out, your company has caused significant doubt over the Caucus results and, consequently, has undermined electoral confidence."

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The House Republicans pointed to comments made by acting Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfTop House Oversight Democrats ask DHS to reduce immigrant detainee population Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children Hillicon Valley: Malicious emails spike amid coronavirus | Real ID deadline delayed one year | Trump officials to limit Huawei's chip access MORE earlier this week that the IDP turned down offers by DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to test the app, along with reports that a top tech official at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) urged the IDP not to use the Shadow app. 

In addition to raising concerns about how the app was tested ahead of the caucuses, the two House Republicans also pointed to problems with training poll workers on using the app, recommending the need for “robust training” for all staff involved. 

The app, built by Shadow Inc., had what the IDP described as a “coding issue” that caused difficulty in tabulating votes cast during the Iowa caucuses on Monday. Iowa Democratic officials were forced to delay reporting of the caucus results, with results slowly being released starting Tuesday.

The DNC banned the use of this app in other upcoming caucuses or primaries.

The errors were not caused by any cyberattack, and did not alter the votes themselves. 

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But there have been questions about the vote count after a New York Times report Thursday claimed irregularities and errors in the tally. DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE called for a recanvass in Iowa in order to "assure public confidence in the results."

IDP Chairman Troy Price pushed back on Wolf’s comments on Tuesday, saying the party had “no knowledge” of DHS’s offer to test the app.

Shadow, which is affiliated with Democratic non-profit Acronym, did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the letter. 

Niemira did put out a statement apologizing for problems using the app earlier this week, saying that Shadow “sincerely regrets” the delay in reporting of the vote count in Iowa, and vowing to “apply the lessons learned in the future.”

Davis and Rogers highlighted the need for Shadow to learn from mistakes made during the Iowa caucuses, writing that they hoped the experience served “as a reminder to election vendors and officials” of programs available at DHS to help vet vote counting apps.