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You can now download the faulty app that caused the Iowa Caucus meltdown

The app that caused the Iowa caucus meltdown on Monday is now available to download. 

IowaReporter, an app developed by Shadow Inc to help poll workers avoid potential clerical error and provide early caucus results, ended up causing a nationwide meltdown when its code failed, significantly delaying results from the caucuses.

The app has since been taken offline, but if you’re curious as to what caused all the fuss, you can download it on Motherboard’s website

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As of February 5, two days after the caucuses, there are still no clear results for who won the Iowa caucus, with only 86 percent of precincts reporting. Paper ballots are being recounted, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said it would not use the app in any other state’s primary election. 

The app’s functions were simple enough: Precinct chairs logged in using a specified PIN, then entered the number of participants and the totals from the first and second round of the caucus. The app was then supposed to tally how many delegates would be awarded to each candidate and send it off to Google Cloud Functions’ backend

The data points precinct chairs entered, however, were not the problem. Once the results were ready to be moved from the app to the third-party cloud backend, a “data-formatting error” occurred in the code, making it impossible to fix in such a short time frame. 

According to ProPublica, the app’s simplicity also opened it up to potential hacking

“The IowaReporter app was so insecure that vote totals, passwords, and other sensitive information could have been intercepted or even changed,” according to officials at Massachusetts-based Veracode who spoke to ProPublica. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also offered to test the app beforehand, but the state’s Democratic Party declined. 

In an effort at transparency, Motherboard is releasing the app to allow developers and politicians alike to learn from the mistakes of Monday night. 

The IowaReporter app was meant to mend the historically banal process of vote counting and revitalize the way results are reported with the helping hand of technology — something the DNC pushed to pioneer. Instead, it opened the election up to potential tampering and perhaps showed the country that elections may not be ready for tech assistance just yet. 

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Meira Gebel
Meira Gebel is a freelance reporter based in Portland. She writes about tech, social media, and internet culture for Digital…
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