Iowa app-ocalypse making some Nevadans nervous

caucus training
Clara Pons, 70, and Maria Sanches, 43, participate in all-Spanish caucus training at the Chispa office this week. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)

So how do you train for the caucus now?

To recap: The final results of the Iowa caucuses, which began on Monday at 8 p.m. EST, have yet to be released amid confusion over the app used to transmit results, leading the Nevada state party to abandon their use of the app.

The Nevada Democratic Party paid $58,000 to Shadow Inc, a tech company affiliated with the Democratic nonprofit group Acronym, for collecting and reporting caucus results in August for “technology services.”

An app meant to record early voting results was developed for Nevada by the same vendor but was also abandoned by the state party after the Iowa debacle, leaving a logistical hole for counting votes on caucus day.

“We are so proud to be offering early voting as part of our process,” said Alana Mounce, the executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party, in a press call. “We’re one of the only caucus states that are utilizing early voting to expand options for Nevadans. We are committed to continuing using the early voting process and creating a plan and a process to be able to make sure that stays intact.”

Party officials have said they do not have a list of other vendors who they are pursuing for an alternative at the moment, nor did they give a timeline on when backup options would be announced, but said that the party has developed “a series of backups and redundancies” for their reporting systems.

That lack of information is a worry for some organizers who are attempting to train historically marginalized communities on how to caucus, adding another barrier to those communities.

“It does make me uneasy,” said Alexa Aispuro, a community organizer for Chispa, adding that due to her role as a resource for her members she worries she does not have answers to some of their questions at the moment. “ I guess we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll have to see what comes our way.”

Due to high member requests, Chispa Nevada hosted their second Spanish-language caucus training for climate voters on Tuesday. Chispa has worked on organizing their Latino members in the months leading up to the Nevada caucus in an effort to improve access for people, who, like many working Nevadans, find a caucus more time-consuming, confusing or just intimidating than voting in a normal election. 

“There’s always going to be barriers and you have to find a way to work around it,” Aispuro said. “I mean some people are working two jobs a day and that’s very common in Latino communities. But it is important for us to keep pushing.”

“This community really wants to know more and they really want the tools and resources to get there,” Aispuro said.

Questions on whether, if at all, the troubles in Iowa would affect voter confidence and turnout for the Nevada caucus have been raised but the variable is unknown. 

“I think it’s 50-50,” said Aispuro on whether it was a concern in her community. “When it comes to this some Latinos know what’s happening and some are saying ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ but I do think it’s a turn-off, and it makes people nervous.” 

Her own experience in the Nevada 2016 caucus, which she called “a bit of a mess,” makes her worry about how her members will react to the upcoming caucuses if they are equally chaotic.

“I think folks will be a little uneasy about it but there’s so much we can do now. We’ll make sure to give as much support as we can,” Aispuro said.

Sonia Garcia, a member of Chispa who plans to attend the caucuses, said she had heard about the troubles in Iowa and was concerned about the security of the process and the accuracy of the count and what it would mean for Nevada. 

“It’s a worry because how can we be sure that everyone who voted will be counted in the manual count?” said Garcia of early voting in her native Spanish. “It is a worry.” 

Maria Sanchez, another member of Chispa who works at Bimbo USA, said she was unaware of any trouble in Iowa and is solely focused on the Nevada caucus and learning how to participate.

At a separate caucus training hosted at the office of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Wednesday, a younger group of potential caucus-goers took light-hearted jabs at the Iowa  experience. 

“This is the work of Shadow,” said one participant during a mock run of delegate allocation to laughter.

“I’m only 62 percent sure I got that right,” said another in reference to the the Iowa Democratic Party only releasing 62 percent of the vote after almost 24 hours of waiting for results.

Kenneth Zamora, 27, a participant in the training said he wasn’t worried about the caucus process in Nevada.

“I don’t think what happened in Iowa will happen here,” Zamora said.

Laura Martin, the executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance said she trusts that Nevada Democratic Party organizers “are going to do their best to make sure that this is a process that is not going to turn people off from participation, but is going to build confidence and make people want to vote in every election.”

Meanwhile, state party officials, as they have since Tuesday morning, offered assurances that everything will be fine.

“We’re currently evaluating the best path forward and taking our time to be methodical and diligent to ensure the next path in our process is one that continues to help make sure this is our most transparent accessible expansive caucuses yet,” said Mounce.

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.