Nobody watched what unfolded in Iowa more closely than the people at our state Democratic Party.
On the day after Iowa's caucus chaos, NV Dems had this to say:
“One thing I can tell you for certain what happened in Iowa last night is not going to happen here in Nevada on February 22nd. As I mentioned, we are not using the same app or the same vendor that Iowa employed in their caucus. Currently, we're evaluating the best path forward to ensure that we uphold the integrity of this process,” says Shelby Wiltz, Caucus Director for the Nevada Democratic Party.
She talked to me a few hours after the party said it will no longer use the company it had paid thousands to develop reporting technology for the caucus.
The company, Shadow Inc., developed technology for both the Iowa and Nevada caucuses. Monday night in Iowa, a software error prevented results from being reported until Tuesday, throwing campaigns, the Iowa caucus and the Iowa Democratic Party into turmoil.
The New York Times reports Tuesday night Shadow was part of the Democratic Party's effort to match the Trump campaign's digital dominance, but in terms of the Iowa Caucus, the Times reports insiders told it the development of the caucus software had been rushed. Campaign spending reports show the Biden, Buttigieg and Gillibrand campaigns also purchased Shadow technology.
Gillibrand dropped out of the race last August; the Biden campaign told News 3 it had bought Shadow's text messaging software. "Our campaign used Shadow only once and on a very small scale, for sending text messages to voters about our campaign kickoff in Philadelphia. Our IT team expressed security concerns about it, and it ultimately did not pass our cybersecurity checklist, so we declined to use it again," said a Biden spokesperson.
The Buttigieg campaign told News 3 in a statement, "we have contracted with this vendor for text messaging services to help us contact voters. It is totally unrelated to any apps they built for the Iowa or Nevada Democratic parties."
A Federal Election Commission filing shows the Nevada Democratic Party paid Shadow Inc. $58,000 last August.
But back to Shelby Wiltz and the caucus she’s running in Nevada: when she says “evaluate,” what that means is they may now use computer apps from someone else, or they may go old school and report results the way they did before.
For campaigns, what's clear is they cannot have another Iowa-style debacle, spending millions for a muddled outcome.
One local campaign told me today it "hopes the state party clarifies concerns."
Wiltz says the caucus is on track.
“We stand ready to execute the plan that we have put together since day one,” she told me.
Caucuses are confusing. What happened last night adds fuel to the fire to dump them and switch to primaries.
“I do think it's time to go to a primary system. I think that's the fairest way and I think you'll probably get the broadest representation of voters,” says former Nevada Governor and US Senator Richard Bryan.
In 2015, an effort to institute a primary failed in the Nevada legislature.
In the meantime, Nevada Democrats say they're ready, and they have support from Nevada's top Democrat, the Governor.
"I am confident in the Nevada state democratic party and I trust they will execute a successful caucus on February 22nd," said Governor Steve Sisolak in a statement to News 3.