Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

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sritcp
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Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by sritcp » Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:29 pm

Can anyone explain what exactly went wrong with the app?

I remember ObamaCare's launch was messed up by the digital company (Canadian?) that built and managed the website.

A lot of sloppy professionals in the business or the inevitable result of increasing complexity of the digital universe?

Thanks,
Sri.

bogs
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by bogs » Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:05 pm

sritcp wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:29 pm
Can anyone explain what exactly went wrong with the app?
Well, in the beginning, despite being a colony, there was the ability to have complete freedom (if you moved far enough out into the wilderness).

Unfortunately, things went rapidly downhill from there.
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by FourthWorld » Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:14 pm

The problem we keep seeing with so many electronic voting systems is the same: we should be using paper ballots.
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by bogs » Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:35 pm

FourthWorld wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:14 pm
we should be using paper ballots.
Well, that, and get people to stop electing officials the way they cheer on a sporting team, and of course electing people to office who are out to protect the public's best interest, instead of their own. Unfortunately, I don't think they make those types anymore.
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by FourthWorld » Wed Feb 05, 2020 12:21 am

I've been very impressed with the younger people I meet. I feel reasonably confident that the next generation will be more earnestly engaged than ours.
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by FourthWorld » Wed Feb 05, 2020 12:31 am

sritcp wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:29 pm
Can anyone explain what exactly went wrong with the app?
Ars Technica is a generally good resource for things like this:
[Update, 4:00 PM] A company spokesperson apologized for the difficulties, claiming that they were not related to the application itself but the infrastructure behind it. "As the Iowa Democratic Party has confirmed, the underlying data and collection process via Shadow's mobile caucus app was sound and accurate, but our process to transmit that caucus results data generated via the app to the IDP was not," a company spokesperson posted on Twitter.
https://arstechnica.com/information-tec ... p-returns/

So beyond proving once again that paper ballots are both cheaper and less difficult to deploy and use, the other moral of the story is one we can all take to heart: test your system at the scale you expect it to be used.
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sritcp
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by sritcp » Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:37 pm

FourthWorld wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:14 pm
...... we should be using paper ballots.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5NygevLsiU

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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by FourthWorld » Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:03 pm

After further reading, I was mistaken: IA did in fact use smarter, cheaper, and more reliable paper ballots in this primary, in sad contrast to many states that use secretive closed-source voting machines in their general elections.

It turns out that the only thing the app affected was relaying results to attendees. No votes were cast with it, no tallies managed in software at all. They used hand-counting of paper ballots, as do most states that tend not to have contested results.

Still an annoyance to have results delayed, and a good reminder for all of us to test at scale. But hardly "ruined".
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sritcp
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by sritcp » Thu Feb 06, 2020 8:38 pm

FourthWorld wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:03 pm
... But hardly "ruined".
Democracy (unlike authoritarianism) only works on mutual agreement.
A big part of it is the confidence we have in the institutions: social and political.
This confidence has been steadily eroded in recent times -- some of it the deliberate doing of bad actors, some due to risks of new technologies that have become integrated with our daily lives (e.g., FaceBook).
What happened in Iowa only serves to further shake people's trust in the efficiency and effectiveness of our electoral process (even if, in reality, nothing went seriously awry in this case, as you point out). Disinformation is easier to sell in such an atmosphere.

It is rarely the guillotine; it is usually a thousand paper cuts that does it.

Regards,
Sri
[P.S.: I've always voted with paper ballots in Virginia!]

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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by FourthWorld » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:29 pm

The question I addressed was the one posted, about the app. The larger question of the global provokatsiya/dezinformatsiya campaign is much larger, and to be honest I spend enough time researching it I'm not inclined to bring that conversation here.
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sritcp
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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by sritcp » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:09 pm

Yes, I understand!

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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by mwieder » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:19 pm

Some problems with the app re Iowa:

the caucuses only got a beta version to test a week before the actual election
the "final" version was delivered to the caucuses hours before it needed to be put into use
some precincts reported being unable to download or log into the app
almost no time for training the various caucuses in how to use it
the backup plan was to call in the results and the phone lines got tied up for hours

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Re: Shadow App that ruined Iowa Caucuses

Post by mwieder » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:25 pm

I'm going to be a pollworker for our precinct on March 3rd, and went to our three-hour training session to learn the new procedures.
We've got a touchscreen booth set up if folks want to use that, but it
A: isn't connected to the internet
B: has no local memory storage
The voter casts her votes, has a chance to review them and change if needed, then prints them on paper with an accompanying QR code, and the paper is placed in the hopper with the other paper ballots.

The touchscreen apparatus is primarily set up for disabled voters to use, but we're guessing that many of the younger voters are going to opt for it over the three-page paper ballots as well.

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