The Nevada State Democratic Party announced new details on changes being made to its presidential caucuses, focused on calculating and reporting results, just nine days before the contest is set to take place.
After dropping an app built by the same company whose “coding errors” caused mass confusion during the Iowa caucuses last week, the Nevada party created a new tool and consulted with the Department of Homeland Security, the Democratic National Committee and other experts to update their reporting system and two-source reporting verification process.
“We understand just how important it is that we get this right and protect the integrity of Nevadans’ votes,” said Alana Mounce, executive director of the state party, in a memo outlining the details. “We are confident in our backup plans and redundancies.”
While the party isn’t calling it an app, precinct chairs will use a “caucus calculator” on party-bought iPads to work out viability and delegate results during the caucuses by adding together caucus results and early vote data into the tool. The tool has the formulas needed already built in, the memo says.
The calculator is accessed and used through what the party says is a secure Google form. Experts at Google were consulted, along with DHS and the DNC, to ensure its security.
“While this is designed to streamline the process and to limit the possibility for human error, caucuses can operate without this calculator,” Mounce wrote.
During a caucus, participants select their first preference for president, recorded on a preference card. If that candidate does not meet a certain viability threshold — usually 15% — that supporter can realign to another viable candidate or join with other voters to create a viable group for another candidate.
Early voting begins Saturday and continues through Monday across 80 locations around the state, available to all registered Democrats.
Voters will be asked to rank their top three to five choices for president on the their ballot, which will be scanned at a processing hub and used at their assigned precinct location on caucus day, the party announced as part of changes to that process earlier this week.
The results from early voting will be included in the caucus calculator and on paper to help precinct chairs include them properly.
“The DNC is working with the Nevada Democratic Party and we are confident that they are doing everything they can to implement the lessons that have been learned from this process,” DNC spokesman David Bergstein told CNN. “We have already deployed staff and will continue to work with them in the coming days.”
The party had spent months training thousands of volunteers on their original app in advance of the caucuses but are now scrambling to promote the new calculator.
At a training summit this weekend, party staffers mentioned it to participants, but multiple volunteers told CNN they still haven’t been able to use or even see the tool that they will use.
“We are actively testing this process and will continue to ensure volunteers receive robust trainings,” Mounce wrote in the memo. “In order to ensure this process is user-friendly for precinct chairs at every experience level, NV Dems invited testing from security experts of varying backgrounds, experienced volunteers, first-time precinct chairs and community leaders.”