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Isn’t it sad that a matter of utmost importance, such as election, suffered a lack of transparency in the recent Iowa Democratic Party’s primary election? On February 3, the Iowa Caucus officials — decided to conduct the primary election with the help of an opaque app, which is a new technology developed by a political, technological company Shadow. It is worthy of mentioning that the plan was for the party to effect electronic polling that can improve the adequacy of data collection and reduce the time spent on vote counting. However, the experience turned out badly for the party members and leaders.

Adequate Testing of the App

The app developers hadn’t duly tested the app before it was made available to the members of the party. As a result, it ran into a coding error, and the process of transmitting results was inaccurate. Even on betting sites, due diligence is ensured to avoid inexact outcome while gamblers try their luck on the best online slots. These unfortunate difficulties caused a significant delay and problems in inputting the county’s votes. According to the Veramatrix chief operating officer, Ashkenazi, while a little amount of errors is allowed in the app design, the density of the error varies in apps. It also depends on the security education of the app developers. Furthermore, he added that the app owner (Shadow) should have run adequate testing in advance.

The degree of errors encountered with the opaque app has generated harsh criticisms. This is because the purpose of its creation, which is primary election data, is very delicate. Some security experts have argued that such incident highlights risks involved in total reliance on the digital system, the centralization of data, and lack of clarity.

Need for Open Source Transparency

Considering the far-reaching consequences caused by the use of an untested app, you might want to argue that the U.S. government should not use electronic voting in subsequent elections. On the contrary, our opinion is that it can hold well-conducted electronic voting if considering some significant factors. First off, such online polling should be done together with paper. More so, before the U.S. government embarked on another electronic voting method, due diligence and enormous resources should be put in place to come up with a standardized technological voting method. The Iowa Democratic Party paid over $60,000 to build the Iowa reporter app. Rather than enlisting the service of a testing app, the government should invest resources into use-proven applications and platforms. 

Most importantly, using the app to conduct electronic voting without an alternative transparent data collection method (such as paper) shows a lack of transparency in the Iowa Сaucus Democratic Party’s primary election. What do you think would have happened if there was, together with the app, a more transparent method of data collection? It would have been possible to avoid unnecessary delay and confusion. Beyond doubt, the failure of the app to transmit the accurate number of votes cast subverts trust in both the app and the government. It should be recalled that this program was introduced to centralize election data, but also posed a threat that if it collapsed, it was capable of taking the very essence of its purpose with it. 

Thus, for the government to regain trust and confidence, there is a need for open-source transparency. Joshua Simmons, a board member and a promoter of open-source software opined that app like this was meant to be precise. He added that software security researchers could improve it by equipping it with transparent characteristics before use. The fiasco of the Iowa caucus app shows that open source is a critical step to take by the government in a bid to build trust and create transparency. 

Conclusion: The Prevalence of Conspiracy Theories

The situation in the Democratic Party’s primary election mentioned above has paved the way for conspiracy theories to pervade the state. Some obvious inconsistencies in the results declared coupled with the linear gap between Bernie Sanders and Peter Buttigieg has informed an ever-increasing widespread of conspiracy theories on social media. Surprisingly, both Buttigieg and Sanders have claimed victory over the Caucuses. Buttigieg argued that he won because of his narrow lead in the delegate count, while Sanders maintains that he leads thanks to overall support. Consequently, these discrepancies have raised criticisms against the party leaders.

Do you think the Iowa Caucus app debacle necessitates the need for open-source transparency? Let us hear your thoughts.

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