SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Early caucusing begins today in Nevada as the Democratic primary process rolls on. Obviously, the chaos in Iowa is a caution, and Nevada Democrats have been rushing to ensure that mistakes are not repeated. We're joined now by NPR's Miles Parks, who covers voting and election security. Miles, thanks for being with us.
MILES PARKS, BYLINE: Thank you for having me, Scott.
SIMON: Early caucusing is a new phrase to me. What does it mean? Is this the first time?
PARKS: It is the first time. And as you know, the caucus process has been criticized for years for a lack of accessibility. It's really hard for people to get to these school gyms or community centers at this very specific time and sometimes takes hours. So in response to that criticism, Nevada is implementing this early caucus process where from today through Tuesday, people can show up to a site in their county, and they'll be able to fill out a ballot. This will be basically a bubble sheet - looks very similar to how people vote in a lot of primaries in this country. The tough problem this introduces is that the party wants to integrate these early caucusing results with the results that are coming in on caucus day next Saturday. So they need to sort them and get them to those precinct leaders so they can basically be counted at the same time as the people who are caucusing on Saturday.
SIMON: And of course, as has been widely reported, they were going to use an app designed by the same company...
PARKS: They were.
SIMON: ...That designed the one in Iowa. They've decided to make a change, I gather.
PARKS: Right. They did. They immediately came out after the Iowa fiasco where the app - there were a number of technical issues, training issues with that. And they came out immediately afterward and said, no, we're going to go in a different direction and have been spending the last couple weeks figuring out a new plan. That new plan still involves a little bit of technology. Basically, the precinct leaders will have iPads, and they'll be using a Google form that will give them the early voting data that came in from days ago. And so as people in front of them in these gyms and community centers are moving around and voicing their support for different candidates, they'll have this iPad, which will be telling them what other people did in the early votes, and they'll integrate those with the math from the iPad. They'll also have paper that will have that information from the early vote data in front of them just in case those iPads fail. They will still have a paper mechanism to be able to do the math if the calculator doesn't work.
SIMON: Miles, what could go wrong?
PARKS: Well, surprisingly, from the experts I've talked to, they seemed pretty happy with these changes that Nevada has made as a result of Iowa. The cybersecurity expert from the University of Iowa, Doug Jones, I just got off the phone with him. And what he basically told me was these seem resilient. It seems like the reporting system and the early vote mechanisms are better than they were in Iowa, but they're still new. Anytime you integrate new election technology, you have to expect hiccups. So there is the potential that these precinct leaders or the people coming to caucus could potentially have issues for no other reason, even if the policies are good, just the fact that they're unfamiliar with them.
SIMON: NPR's Miles Parks, thanks so much.
PARKS: Thank you.
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