One month ago today, Iowans gathered for the 2016 Caucuses and used new technology to record their results – a mobile app built specifically for the Iowa Republicans’ and Democrat’s unique processes. The use of this technology ushered in a new era for the caucuses.
These apps, which we created with our partner, //interknowlogy/ made recording results secure and accurate with a dual authentication process that ensured precinct captains were approved to submit results from precincts across the state. Validation apps for both state parties allowed staff at headquarters to quickly and efficiently authenticate results and then release them to public websites. On caucus night, both parties reported, validated, and published 95 percent of their precinct results by shortly after 11:00 PM central time—four hours after the caucuses began.
This use of technology was a marked change from the way Iowans had previously recorded results using touch-tone phones and paper ballots.
In some previous years, precinct results were never completely collected. The use of Microsoft and enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential elections event As a result, PBS dubbed the caucuses the “smartphone election.” They went on to applaud Microsoft, noting that, “You are not imagining things. The results came in quickly last night. This is thanks to a smartphone app developed by Microsoft that allowed caucus organizers in all 1,681 Iowa precincts to enter results on their phone, in real time. It feels like a major change in how caucuses, and down the road, how all elections can run.”
In addition to the apps, Microsoft supported the caucuses in several ways. We sponsored a media center in downtown Des Moines, which emerged as the center of media activity. Nearly 1,000 members of the credentialed press registered from 92 different network/broadcasting outlets, 112 print organizations and 18 countries. We also worked with the Caucus Consortium on speakers’ series for business leaders and the presidential candidates leading up to the caucuses as well as a kick-off party for the media.
In addition, we helped the media analyze and disseminate information to viewers throughout the caucuses. For example, CNN and other broadcasters used Microsoft Pulse to poll their audiences on specific questions and ask them to respond to what they were hearing during the broadcast. And Microsoft and //interknowlogy/ built the technology behind CNN’s Magic Wall, which allowed newscasters to explore data and projections in real time with 3D data visualizations and advanced touch functionality.
Technology can play an important role in ensuring civic engagement like the caucuses are secure, accurate, and efficient. To learn more, please watch our Iowa caucuses video. Also, stay tuned for future blog posts over the next several months as the 2016 presidential election unfolds. Interested in learning more? See how you can increase voter turnout and improve election processes with affordable innovation with this webinar and brief.