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Nevada Democrats describe tool to replace app that failed in Iowa caucuses

The Nevada State Democratic Party outlined new details of its revised tabulation and reporting process for its upcoming caucuses on February 22. Early voting kicks off for Democrats in the state on Saturday.

"In choosing the best path forward our guiding principles have been security, efficiency, and simplicity," state party executive director Alana Mounce wrote in the memo. 

To replace software scrapped after the technological snafus that delayed the reporting of results in the Iowa caucuses, volunteer precinct chairs will be provided with iPads pre-loaded with a "caucus calculator" to assist them in tabulating results from both caucus-goers in the room and from the early voting.

First described as a "tool," the existence of which CBS News first reported on Friday, the state party says the "caucus calculator" will be "accessed through a secure Google web form." 

Data from the early vote will be accessible through both the iPads and a paper copy.

Volunteers will report the outcome of their precincts "through a secure hotline" to the state party, which will be later verified by one more additional source.

The state party says it consulted with the Democratic National Committee, Department of Homeland Security, independent experts, and Google in order to develop their process.

Many of the new "caucus calculator" features mirror the "caucus reporter app" developed by Shadow for the Nevada and Iowa State Democratic Parties. 

The Shadow-produced app's primary functions had been to assist precinct chairs in calculating which candidates had met sufficient support to be considered viable for the precinct, award delegates, and report results and issues to the state party from the site, according to documents obtained by CBS News. 

As in the current process, precinct chairs also had the option to forego the technological assistance and calculate results by hand.

The state party says it continues to conduct trial runs of the calculator and backups with its more than 3,000 volunteers, who will man caucuses across some 252 locations in the state. 

What's not clear at this point is whether there will be a verification system to check reported data, as there was in Iowa. Multiple sources familiar with the matter have told CBS News that the "coding error" which led to some of delays in reporting results occurred in the process of transferring data to a quality control system. Sources have said that there were not major issues with this during test runs.

Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira told VICE News that results from Shadow's database were supposed to be checked in a "quality control check environment." But there was a data-formatting error that caused results not to be accepted as they were moved to the verification system.

"In the process of doing that, we had some faulty code that took the data and put it into a format that made it fail the checks," Niemira said. "That was throwing up flags, which took time to resolve."

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