Skip to main content
Skip to main content
for

Northwestern computer scientists available on Iowa caucus technology debacle

  • Created: February 05, 2020

Two Northwestern University computer scientists who develop smartphone apps are available to comment on the technology debacle at Monday’s Iowa caucus.

Peter Dinda is an expert in experimental computer systems and is a professor of computer science in the McCormick School of Engineering. His comments:

“Automating a functioning, well-understood process that already works is usually a bad idea. As far as I understand this situation, there was really no point to their system -- it didn’t address any actual problem other than their process looked old-fashioned. Computer security experts tend to be especially conservative about voting systems. After issues with voting machines in Ohio, computer security experts, worldwide, insisted on paper trails for computer voting machines and lauded other old-fashioned methods, such as optical scan ballots.”

Dinda can be reached at pdinda@northwestern.edu.

Fabian Bustamante is an expert in computing networks and is a professor of computer science in the McCormick School of Engineering. His comments:

“Little is known about the app because [its maker] Shadow opted for secrecy as a way of security, which is always a bad idea. It seems like there was just not enough testing on an app that was not even necessary. Even a simple Google spreadsheet would have worked for what they wanted to do.”

Bustamante can be reached at Bustamante.fabian@gmail.com.