Nevada Democratic Party to use Google custom calculator to tally caucus results

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The Nevada State Democratic Party plans to use a Google calculator uploaded to iPads to help tally voting results in the upcoming Nevada caucuses, a top party official announced Thursday. 

Party Executive Director Alana Mounce sent a memo explaining that the calculator will be loaded onto 2,000 iPads purchased by the Nevada State Democratic Party, with the iPads then distributed to precinct chairs.

Mounce wrote that the party “consulted with a team of independent security and technical experts to create a simple, user-friendly calculator,” and that the calculator will only be used by “trained precinct chairs and accessed through a secure Google web form.”

Each precinct will also separately record voters and award delegates on paper backup sheets to ensure the results of the caucus are accurate in case something goes wrong with the calculator.

Mounce emphasized that the calculator will not need to be downloaded by precinct officials on to any devices and that the party had invited testing from security experts, volunteers and community leaders to ensure the process was user-friendly.

When reporting voting data, the party will require a two-source verification process of reporting the data through a secure hotline to a trained operator, and then a second source verifying the data using either the paper results or the Google calculator. 

“We understand just how important it is that we get this right and protect the integrity of Nevadans’ votes,” Mounce wrote. “We are confident in our backup plans and redundancies.”

The announcement comes after the party made the decision to not use a vote tabulator app built by Shadow Inc. that malfunctioned due to a “coding issue” during the Iowa caucuses and caused a backup in tallying results. 

“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy said earlier this month in announcing the party’s decision. “We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) said during an interview earlier this week the state has “a great program” and that he was “confident” heading into the caucuses. 

“We’ve got some great people that are hired that are onboard,” Sisolak said. “We’ve got a lot of informational meetings out there. I’m confident we’ve taken every precaution. We’ve learned from Iowa and hopefully we won’t have any of those problems.”

Early voting as part of the Nevada caucuses is set to begin this weekend and run through Feb. 18, while the official caucus day is Feb. 22, with caucuses taking place at 252 locations throughout the state.

Mounce noted in her memo that the calculator will add early voting data to caucus day data, and that no data from the early voting will be reported publicly prior to Feb. 22. 

Tags 2020 Democratic primary caucuses Elections Nevada

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