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Democratic tech fell well short in caucuses

Patience, urged Republican Party officials in Iowa earlier this week. Give the Democrats time to ensure results of political party caucuses on nominees for president are reported accurately.

Give GOP officials credit for adopting a “there but for the grace of God go I” policy. But mistakes made by the Iowa Democratic Party leadership are a virtual how-not-to-do regarding important processes in politics.

For many years, Iowans have held the distinction of being a bellwether state in presidential election years. Their town-meeting style caucus system of naming favorites for both the Democrat and Republican presidential nominations is watched closely by many, as an indicator of how well candidates will do later in the year.

But after Iowans caucused on Monday, the rest of the nation waited, and waited, and waited some more for results involving Democratic candidates. State party officials were able to release only partial results by Tuesday night.

What went wrong? A new, high-tech system used to tally and report results of the caucuses simply did not work.

How was that possible? Was the system not provided by a reliable company, then tested and retested to ensure it functioned well?

Obviously not. In fact, Iowa Democrat leaders picked what The Associated Press termed “a little-known startup company” to supply the “app.” Then, the firm’s name was kept secret, as amazing as that may seem. It turns out the company is named Shadow Inc., and it includes some people who worked in previous Democratic presidential campaigns. Did political factors outweigh prudence in selecting the firm?

It was learned this week that the new technology was rushed to the point that many of the people who needed to use it at 1,678 precinct caucuses throughout Iowa were not trained adequately. Some reportedly decided not to use the “app.”

At a time when suspicion regarding the mechanics of selecting presidents is high, failure of the Iowa Democratic Party experiment does not bode well for increasing confidence. Hopefully, those involved in the process in other states will learn from Iowa. At least, they can reflect, the fiasco occurred early in the process.

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