Politics

Nevada Dems seek volunteer tech support for their caucus

Do you know how to use Google Forms and iPads? The Nevada Democrats could use your help.

Nevada Dems seek volunteer tech support for their caucus

Like the Iowa Democratic Party, the Nevada party had planned to use an app to tabulate and report results. But Nevada party leaders scrapped that plan after watching what happened in Iowa.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Democrats desperately want to avoid another Iowa — that is, another technical snafu that derails a crucial state caucus. And so, with just days to go before the Nevada caucus, Democrats are recruiting volunteers with basic tech skills to sit at major precincts throughout the state and help precinct captains troubleshoot snags as they arise.

It's kind of like teaching your parents how to use their new iPhones at Christmas, only in this case, it's the democratic process at stake.

Over the last week, links to a sign up form have been circulating on Twitter, as well as Democratic mailing lists and Slack channels. It asks for technical volunteers to come to Nevada and "pair up with a Precinct Captain — in real life! — on the day of the caucus."

Get what matters in tech, in your inbox every morning. Sign up for Source Code.

The Nevada Democratic Party didn't respond to Protocol's request for comment on this recruiting push. But according to a Democratic source who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the party, the effort was spearheaded by several top Democratic technologists who were alarmed by the Iowa debacle and concerned that the Democratic National Committee, still reeling from the fallout, might not have the bandwidth to prevent a similar catastrophe in Nevada. Those technologists include Raffi Krikorian, former chief technologist of the Democratic National Committee; Osi Imeokparia, former chief product officer for Hillary for America; and Lindsey Schuh Cortes, former CEO of the Democratic data analytics company BlueLabs. They declined Protocol's interview requests.

According to the source, some 50 technical volunteers across the country have signed up to help so far. That's hardly enough to pair a live tech-troubleshooter with every precinct captain in the state, which has approximately 2,000 precincts.

One recruiting message reviewed by Protocol specified that would-be volunteers should be able to, at a minimum, debug simple technology issues, use basic tech tools like PDFs and Google Docs, and communicate via Slack and Signal.

The organizers also tapped into a group called DigiDems, which was founded after the 2016 election specifically to embed technologists in campaigns. A representative from DigiDems confirmed that some of its alumni are volunteering on the ground to support early vote operations in Nevada.

Like the Iowa Democratic Party, the Nevada party had planned to use an app, built by a startup called Shadow, to tabulate and report results. But Nevada party leaders scrapped that plan after watching what happened in Iowa. Last week, the party announced that it would instead use a Google Forms calculator, which would be preloaded on iPads purchased by the party, and could be used only by precinct captains. State party officials said they worked with the DNC and the Department of Homeland Security to develop this new process.

The problem with Shadow's app stemmed from a flaw in the way the app transmitted data to the party's headquarters. That app was hastily built just a few months before the caucus, leaving people both inside and outside of the party to wonder why Iowa would take a gamble on such an untested tool.

Google Forms is certainly not untested. But that doesn't guarantee a smooth caucus night. According to POLITICO, volunteers in Nevada are already reporting rushed training sessions that fail to adequately explain how to use the iPads and Google Forms. That's particularly problematic for older volunteers who are unfamiliar with the technology.

"There were old ladies looking at me like, 'Oh, we're going to have iPads,'" one volunteer told POLITICO. The hope is that having people in the room with even rudimentary tech literacy skills could help bridge that knowledge gap.

Of course, not all of the issues in Iowa had to do with tech. The party's phone lines were also overwhelmed by 4chan trolls urging one another to "clog the lines," after the Iowa Democrats made their phone number public. The Nevada Democrats have reportedly learned from that mistake as well: This time around, only precinct chairs will have access to the reporting hotline.

Policy

Musk’s texts reveal what tech’s most powerful people really want

From Jack Dorsey to Joe Rogan, Musk’s texts are chock-full of überpowerful people, bending a knee to Twitter’s once and (still maybe?) future king.

“Maybe Oprah would be interested in joining the Twitter board if my bid succeeds,” one text reads.

Photo illustration: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images; Protocol

Elon Musk’s text inbox is a rarefied space. It’s a place where tech’s wealthiest casually commit to spending billions of dollars with little more than a thumbs-up emoji and trade tips on how to rewrite the rules for how hundreds of millions of people around the world communicate.

Now, Musk’s ongoing legal battle with Twitter is giving the rest of us a fleeting glimpse into that world. The collection of Musk’s private texts that was made public this week is chock-full of tech power brokers. While the messages are meant to reveal something about Musk’s motivations — and they do — they also say a lot about how things get done and deals get made among some of the most powerful people in the world.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

Circle’s CEO: This is not the time to ‘go crazy’

Jeremy Allaire is leading the stablecoin powerhouse in a time of heightened regulation.

“It’s a complex environment. So every CEO and every board has to be a little bit cautious, because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told Protocol at Converge22.

Photo: Circle

Sitting solo on a San Francisco stage, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire asked tennis superstar Serena Williams what it’s like to face “unrelenting skepticism.”

“What do you do when someone says you can’t do this?” Allaire asked the athlete turned VC, who was beaming into Circle’s Converge22 convention by video.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Enterprise

Is Salesforce still a growth company? Investors are skeptical

Salesforce is betting that customer data platform Genie and new Slack features can push the company to $50 billion in revenue by 2026. But investors are skeptical about the company’s ability to deliver.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salesforce has long been enterprise tech’s golden child. The company said everything customers wanted to hear and did everything investors wanted to see: It produced robust, consistent growth from groundbreaking products combined with an aggressive M&A strategy and a cherished culture, all operating under the helm of a bombastic, but respected, CEO and team of well-coiffed executives.

Dreamforce is the embodiment of that success. Every year, alongside frustrating San Francisco residents, the over-the-top celebration serves as a battle cry to the enterprise software industry, reminding everyone that Marc Benioff’s mighty fiefdom is poised to expand even deeper into your corporate IT stack.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a writer-at-large at Protocol. He previously covered enterprise software for Protocol, Bloomberg and Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JoeWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Policy

The US and EU are splitting on tech policy. That’s putting the web at risk.

A conversation with Cédric O, the former French minister of state for digital.

“With the difficulty of the U.S. in finding political agreement or political basis to legislate more, we are facing a risk of decoupling in the long term between the EU and the U.S.”

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cédric O, France’s former minister of state for digital, has been an advocate of Europe’s approach to tech and at the forefront of the continent’s relations with U.S. giants. Protocol caught up with O last week at a conference in New York focusing on social media’s negative effects on society and the possibilities of blockchain-based protocols for alternative networks.

O said watching the U.S. lag in tech policy — even as some states pass their own measures and federal bills gain momentum — has made him worry about the EU and U.S. decoupling. While not as drastic as a disentangling of economic fortunes between the West and China, such a divergence, as O describes it, could still make it functionally impossible for companies to serve users on both sides of the Atlantic with the same product.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Latest Stories
Bulletins