Datasheets for Apps?

Interesting article from the New York Times about the Iowa caucus “app issue” that is causing delayed results. (

Some of the questions he poses are:

Who exactly is responsible for building the apps intended to protect the integrity of the democratic process? Who is funding the companies behind the tech companies? Why didn’t the Iowa Democratic Party disclose the app maker? How are procurement decisions made? Where’s the transparency?

The issue with this app is that misinformation has easily been spread by both democrats and republicans.

If apps or technology will be used in these types of processes, then more transparency is necessary so that people can be held accountable in case the technology does not work as expected.


There actually was a good amount of data when only like 60 some % of the precincts were reporting so…I think it’s beyond just the app, but journalism/the media in general that may be have been reporting inaccuracies to be honest. And ya, it was a private company, not the govt. You’d have to take that up with the DNC or local Dem Party to effectively change anything, good luck getting to higher ups though (as someone who was heavily involved prior and worked in electoral politics, this thing is so far removed from the process that while I’d say it’s not impossible to change, I’d say it’s rather difficult). I would probably focus instead of party info, look at the general election prevention instead, each party has its own fair share of politics in tech, and you may just find yourself frustrated if you can’t actually realistically in practice recommend and secure the “ethical” vendor for this kind of thing. To me what counts more is actually what should have been contested in the 2016 election (outside of electoral college) and substantive things you can change now to prevent things from being worse in the future, not venting about pre-determined vendors after the fact unless you get the higher ups earlier to change that between now and the future local state/causes or other convention (DNC in July) etc. which I’d say at this point is highly unlikely. Lastly, there was a long debate about procurement decisions for which had to be completely revamped as well, so outside of electoral politics, but with regards to policy issues run by actual govt agencies and departments depending on the Administration, the leadership, the staff, the process, you’re probably just going to get frustrated with the transparency without having some other way in from the get-go in the beginning targeting the right folks to prevent these problems from happening. I know a lot of the folks personally firsthand who had to deal with the procurement resolution from who were phenomenal in some of the fixes, but there was a lot before that which was of course, very much troublesome. Without specifying what sort of transparency you’re desiring, the right strategy/tactics targeting the right decisionmakers, you may sound like you’d be complaining to be brutally honest. That doesn’t mean your concerns are unfounded, they’re valid, I’m just hoping that there could be something more actionable, concrete, specific, and effective to change anything substantially now and in the future that “transparency” actually means something than being “clear.”