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Acronym Casts Shadow Over Iowa Caucus for Democratic Party

Shadow partnered with Acronym to develop the app to track and count voters at the Iowa caucus for the Democratic Party, according to reports

What is an Acronym for Shadow? 

A little-known tech company reportedly affiliated with and partially funded by a digital non-profit group called Acronym has found itself in the political and media spotlight after its app caused delays in providing Monday night’s tight Iowa caucus results.

The mobile app that reportedly caused the vote-counting issues was built by Washington, D.C.-based Shadow Inc., a tech firm connected to Democratic nonprofit Acronym.

At issue is the relationship between Shadow and Acronym, specifically whether the two firms were working together in developing the vote-counting app that caucus site leaders were supposed to use to upload the results at their locales.

According to reports, Shadow partnered with Acronym last year to develop the app, which was supposed to track and count Iowa voters as they entered gyms throughout the state on Monday night to cast their vote for their favored Democratic presidential candidate.

State campaign finance records show that the Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow some $60,000 over two payments in November and December. Shadow describes itself as a company that builds “affordable and easy-to-use tools” for progressives, according to its website.

Gerard Niemira, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is the head of Shadow. He previously served as chief technology officer and chief operating officer of Acronym, according to his LinkedIn page. 

Acronym CEO Tara McGowan last year said her firm was launching Shadow as part of an acquisition of a political customer-relationship management tool.

However, Acronym on Tuesday distanced itself from Shadow, saying it was one of a number of investors in the company.

“Acronym is a non-profit organization and not a technology company. As such, we have not provided any technology to the Iowa Democratic Party, Presidential campaigns, or the Democratic National Committee,” the firm said in a statement.

Further, Acronym was “reading confirmed reports of Shadow’s work with the Iowa Democratic Party on Twitter, and we, like everyone else, are eagerly awaiting more information from the Iowa Democratic Party with respect to what happened.”

Pete Buttigieg, Kristen Gillibrand, and Joe Biden have all paid Shadow for services, according to Federal Election Commission filings. 

The Nevada Democratic Party, scheduled to hold the next Democratic caucus on Feb. 22, had also reportedly paid Shadow for website development, though Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy said on Tuesday that Nevada Democrats can "confidently" be assured that what occurred in Iowa will not occur in Nevada.

"We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” he said.

While not of the same caliber as dimpled and hanging chads - the nubs of paper that were blamed for miscounted votes in Florida during the Gore-Bush Presidential elections in 2000 – Monday’s challenges are an example of what can go wrong when technology is introduced into the voting process - especially when it's still in the hands of people.

The Iowa Democratic Party has told campaigns that it plans to release the majority of the results by 4 pm E.T. today.