Reporting the Results: Caucus Leaders Prepare for Caucus Night

Published: Jan. 18, 2016 at 6:14 PM CST
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People across the nation will be watching Iowa on February 1, and political parties know there’s no room for error.

You might remember in 2012, Iowa had issues because some precincts didn't report results on caucus night.

So, many are doing all they can to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again as many take part in the first in the nation caucuses.

"We are expecting turnout probably the second biggest we've ever had,” said Johnson County Democratic Party Caucus Coordinator John Deeth.

It's training time for the Johnson County Republicans and Democrats. Parties are going over every detail with those who will lead the caucus process as chair within each precinct. Things are changing for this caucus following issues with the old, call-in reporting system.

"All of these, how many precincts? Like 1,500 or more precincts in Iowa trying to call Des Moines made for a lot of problems in the past,” said Johnson County Republican Central Committee Treasurer Charles Seberg.

So, Iowa's party leaders worked with Microsoft to develop an app.

"For the first time this year, the two parties have worked together, partnered with Microsoft, and we developed a smart phone app so that people can punch in their numbers," Deeth said.

The apps work a little differently for each party because voting is different.

The Democrats use a more visual manner of standing in groups and using math to determine how many votes the candidates get. The Republicans submit votes on small ballots and each one gets reported to party headquarters.

One person from each site will submit the final results at the end of the caucus. The app requires that person, which is usually the caucus chair, to type in their phone number and a special code before entering the final votes.

"We just have to find somebody that’s got the technology in their pocket so that they can do the report for us,” Seberg said.

The state also has a call-in, back-up system, if someone has problems with the app. Many, however, are confident and are ready for the big night.

“It's in Iowa's interest to do a good job on both sides so that we can keep our privileged first-in-the-nation status,” Deeth said.

Party leaders also said the results go to the party headquarters in Des Moines where they also have another safety feature built in to make sure the numbers are adding up.