Dems Buck Election Security Concerns Ahead of Iowa Caucuses

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Posted: Jan 14, 2020 8:00 PM
Dems Buck Election Security Concerns Ahead of Iowa Caucuses

Source: AP Photo/Matthew Brown

Democrats have continually said they are concerned about election security, especially after it was revealed that Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election. They have said they want to do everything in their power to make sure that type of foreign interference never happens again. Despite those claims, the Democratic Party in Iowa is planning to use a mobile application to transmit next month's caucus results, National Public Radio reported. 

The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 3rd across the state and will take place in various places, like public buildings, schools and churches. Since caucus-goers "vote" for their candidate by physically standing in a corner of the room, the mobile app is supposed to help the state party transmit results quicker. 

The Hawkeye State's Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price declined to explain exactly what they are doing to ensure the system is secure. He did, however, say the Iowa State Party worked with the Democratic National Committee's cybersecurity team and Harvard University's Defending Digital Democracy project. It is unclear whether or not a third party determined how secure the application truly is.

"We as the party have taken this very seriously, and we know how important it is for us to make sure that our process is secure and that we protect the integrity of the process," Price told NPR. "We want to make sure we are not relaying information that could be used against us."

The fact that the party refuses to reveal what they are doing to protect the election makes it difficult for voters to have confidence in the system.

"The idea of security through obscurity is almost always a mistake," Doug Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa and a former caucus precinct leader, explained. "Drawing the blinds on the process leaves us, in the public, in a position where we can't even assess the competence of the people doing something on our behalf."

In the past, caucus leaders would call the results in. If the app should fail or go down, the state party would revert to the old way of doing things. They would still have to receive phone calls from the 1,679 precincts across the state. 

It really is hard to believe that the Democrats did everything in their power to ensure this mobile app works. Working with the DNC doesn't mean much, especially when their servers were hacked in the past. Going to the national party for help when they can't even get their own stuff right doesn't make much sense.