The incompetent display by the Iowa Democratic Party and its app developer, Shadow, Inc., was astonishing.
As far as the Party goes, however, the incompetence started and ended with the decision to hire an app developer to handle the caucus results in the first place. Even if the app had worked perfectly, the incompetence of that decision was breathtaking, in my opinion.
According to this report, the Party paid Shadow, Inc., over $63,000 in professional fees in November and December alone. Add in January’s fees and the total likely is in the $100,000 range, perhaps higher.
Why pay that?
Say there were 10 voters in the entire state. Would you pay an app developer to handle the reporting? Of course not.
At first blush, handling the results from 1600 odd precincts sounds far more daunting, but did it really warrant a six-figure investment in app development?
With or without the app, the Party needed a precinct captain at each location to report the results.
Could the statewide tabulation have been done without technology, relying on manpower alone? Probably not, but what about basic — free — technology? Like email and an Excel spreadsheet?
Consider this, for example: Instead of having the precinct captains use a $100,000 app with which they weren’t familiar, why not have them email their results, which consist of three sets of totals (first round votes, second round votes, and state delegates), to one of 40 volunteers, with 40 precincts assigned to each volunteer. Each volunteer then plugs the totals for his or her 40 precincts into an Excel spreadsheet, which any high-schooler can program, in advance, to tabulate the overall results. Then, each of the 40 volunteers emails his or her Excel spreadsheet to another volunteer, who handles the perfunctory task of cutting and pasting from the 40 spreadsheets into a large spreadsheet that tabulates for all 1600 precincts.
Could the job have been done with 41 volunteers, email and Excel, saving the Iowa Democratic Party $100,000 in app development fees and avoiding the royal embarrassment that ensued?
I don’t know if 40 volunteers would have been enough. It may have required twice that many. But across an entire state full of Democratic activists, that would not have been too heavy a lift.
And even if an app were required here, should it really have cost what the Iowa Democratic Party paid?
It all brings to mind the immortal words of Bugs Bunny: “What a bunch of maroons.”