How Nevada Democrats Plan to Avoid an Iowa-Style Meltdown Ahead of Caucuses

The Nevada State Democratic Party is implementing procedural redundancies in the hopes that its Saturday caucuses do not go the way of Iowa, where delayed reporting and caucus-site confusion earned that state's Democratic Party widespread criticism.

A memo released by the Nevada Democrats' executive director says that Democrats "are strengthening our processes to address the main challenges that have arisen in the primary process."

"We understand just how important it is that we get this right and protect the integrity of Nevadans' votes," the memo from Alana Mounce acknowledged. "We are confident in our backup plans and redundancies."

The Nevada Democrats commissioned a custom-made calculator to assist trained precinct chairs, who will access the app on iPads provided by the party, to perform the necessary math and factor in early-vote counts. The Nevada Democratic Party also says the phone line that will be receiving results from precinct leaders during Saturday's caucuses will be staffed with 200 people.

By contrast, the now-infamous Iowa caucuses app developed by technology company Shadow was downloaded onto personal devices, and reports suggested that volunteers were never trained on how to use it.

In Nevada, "everything will be provided and pre-configured," Mounce's memo said.

The New York Times reported that Shadow's app was "not properly tested at a statewide scale" before it was rolled out ahead of Iowa's caucuses, with major problems the result. Nevadans are apparently taking this lesson to heart, indicating they "are actively testing this process and will continue to ensure volunteers receive robust trainings," Mounce wrote.

And where Iowa's backup telephonic system was clogged with calls from precinct chairs stymied by virtually unusable app-based reporting, Nevada caucus sites plan on reporting results through two sources: a "secure hotline" and documentary verification from a caucus sheet or calculator.

Mounce announced that the party has already consulted with the federal Department of Homeland Security on best practices. The department never evaluated Iowa's caucus app, a fact that critics highlighted as they noted concerns about potential vulnerabilities in that state.

Seeking to allay fears about a repeat of Iowa—which President Donald Trump seized upon in an attempt to discredit the Democrats' governance abilities—Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said the party is going "as low-tech as humanly possible" on Saturday, "while still preserving efficiency."

"I'm very confident that we will be able to carry out a successful caucus," Perez said on CNN Wednesday.

The bungled caucuses in Iowa catalyzed calls to reconsider the state's primacy in presidential nominating contests every four years, a notion that has ratcheted up the pressure to succeed in Nevada.

Because of a host of factors, the state may be presented with a rare opportunity to make a showing for its competence, and diversity, as calls mount for Nevada to supplant Iowa as the first state to vote in the primaries.

Almost 75,000 Nevada Democrats voted early during the prescribed four-day period this cycle, just around 10,000 votes fewer than the total number of caucusgoers in 2016, when there was no early voting.

Caucuses will be held at 252 different locations, and voters can choose to register with the state's Democratic Party on-site.

Caucus Volunteers Receive Training Before Nevada Votes In Presidential Primary
Volunteers receive training for recording the Nevada caucuses results on February 20 in Las Vegas, two days before the voting. Win McNamee/Getty
How Nevada Democrats Plan to Avoid an Iowa-Style Meltdown Ahead of Caucuses | Politics