The Nevada State Democratic Party will use a Google-powered custom calculator to calculate, send and receive results during early voting and the Feb. 22 caucuses, the party announced Thursday afternoon.
In a memo, Executive Director Alana Mounce said the party “consulted with a team of independent security and technical experts to create a simple, user-friendly calculator.” It will be pre-loaded onto about 2,000 party-purchased iPads and distributed to the precinct chairs, who Mounce said will be trained on its use.
Each caucus chair will also work out viability thresholds, count voters and award delegates on paper backup sheets in case there is a problem with the calculator. Precinct chairs at each of the more than 1,700 Democratic caucuses will use a “secure hotline” to phone in results, which will be verified by the party using either the calculator app and its connected Google Forms or the paper backup sheets.
The memo comes after more than a week of deep uncertainty surrounding Nevada’s first-in-the-West caucuses.
The state party had originally planned to use several apps for early voting, which runs from Saturday to Tuesday, and on caucus day. It abandoned this plan after a similar app developed by the same company, Shadow Inc., failed during the Iowa caucuses.
As volunteers in Iowa attempted to use their hotline, supporters of President Donald Trump also flooded the line with calls, causing further delays.
The Iowa phone number had been posted online.
The Nevada party will host 1,736 caucuses at 252 locations across the state. As with early voting, attendees will have to check in through a paper voter roll and will receive a voter preference card with a pre-generated voter PIN on it.
The caucuses are only open to Democrats. Voters who are not registered Democrats may change their registration at any caucus site.
Preferences from early voters will be provided to each caucus chair through the calculator and on paper. As the party has purchased iPads, the caucus chair will not be required to download anything to his or her personal devices.
The caucus calendar mimics the formulas used for determining which candidates are viable (generally those who get at least 15 percent of the vote) during the first alignment. It will then determine delegate totals (the number of supporters for a candidate multiplied by the total county delegates available in the caucus, and divided by the total number of caucus-goers).
Mounce said the party consulted with security experts from the Democratic National Committee, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Google and independent consultancies to “ensure the process would remain secure.”
The calculator also went through testing from security experts, experienced volunteers, first-time precinct chairs and community leaders, Mounce said.
Caucus chairs also will be required to work these formulas out on paper, as they did in past caucuses.
The party is working to ensure all volunteers are trained on both methods, Mounce said. According to its website, the Nevada Democrats will hold more than 40 such training sessions in the coming week.
Results will be reported by phone and then verified by the party using either the calculator, which feeds data into a Google Form, or the paper backups.
The DNC requires three types of results: raw vote totals from the first alignment and second alignments, and a county delegate result. Eventually, the county delegate totals factor down into the 36 pledged delegates Nevada will send to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July.
Presidential campaigns will have access to the data through the Google Form, and candidates may request a recount if they choose.