Iowa Caucus: This Microsoft Partner Says Its Apps Will Speed Reporting, Fix Voting Glitches

Tim Huckaby, founder and chairman of InterKnowlogy

InterKnowlogy, a 30-person Microsoft application development partner in Carlsbad, Calif., is playing a big role in upgrading the voting technology infrastructure for the Iowa Caucus, which starts Monday evening and marks the official beginning of the 2016 presidential election.

In partnership with Microsoft, InterKnowlogy has built a mobile reporting app that managers from each of Iowa's 1,681 precincts will use to send reporting results (in Iowa Caucus terminology, the precincts don't "vote," they "report") to Republican and Democratic party headquarters.

InterKnowlogy also built a validation app that party officials will use to review reporting data from the precincts, and Web apps that will be used to broadcast the results to the public in real time.

InterKnowlogy's apps run on iOS, Android and Windows smartphones and tablets and store and process the data they collect in the Microsoft Azure cloud. This enables reporting to proceed more quickly than it has during previous Iowa Caucuses, Tim Huckaby, InterKnowlogy's founder and chairman, said in a recent interview.

"This will be the first time in Iowa Caucuses history that reporting will be done accurately and efficiently in real time," Huckaby told CRN.

InterKnowlogy has also built number of new features for CNN's on-air broadcast app for the Iowa Caucus, which is expected to be seen by millions of viewers, Huckaby said.

The mobile reporting app includes a multifactor authentication process, which will ensure that the Iowa Caucus reporting results are accurate, according to Huckaby.

First, the app uses Azure to check the phone number of each precinct manager against a unique precinct code. If it matches, the app sends a numerical code to the precinct manager via text message. Once that's entered, the precinct manager has 15 minutes to enter the reporting results into the app, Huckaby said.

The goal is to avoid a repeat of the reporting glitches that plagued the Republican Party during the 2012 Iowa Caucus, when reporting was handling by a phone-based interactive voice response (IVR) system.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was initially declared the winner by an eight-vote margin, but after discovering vote-counting issues, the Republican Party announced 16 days later that Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had prevailed by 34 votes.

This time around, "there is no possible technical way that more than the votes that are allocated can be placed. Using two-factored authentication essentially means we lock down reporting to the device itself," Huckaby said.

Huckaby said InterKnowlogy built the mobile reporting app using Xamarin, a startup whose technology lets developers use Microsoft's C# programming language to build apps for iOS and Android. The validation app is built with Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which lets developers write one set of code for apps that run on Windows PCs, phones and tablets.

CRN has reached out to Microsoft spokespeople for comment on InterKnowlogy's apps and will update this story if we hear back.

InterKnowlogy uses two Azure production environments for the mobile reporting app, one for each party. All Iowa Caucus data, including a list of precincts, candidates and number of attendees expected, are uploaded into Azure via Excel, said Huckaby.

Huckaby said it took three to four months for InterKnowlogy's team of four engineers to build the Iowa Caucus apps. The majority of that time, he said, was spent on setting up the infrastructure underpinning the apps, as opposed to developing the software.

This isn't new ground for InterKnowlogy, which worked with Microsoft's Bing Pulse team to build CNN's on-air broadcast application that made its debut at the 2012 presidential election.

The app, which is used by CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer and chief national correspondent John King to display election data and live voting results, runs on Microsoft's Perceptive Pixel 82-inch, touch-screen display. InterKnowlogy also built the public website,, where viewers can follow the results online.

While the Iowa Caucus will showcase InterKnowlogy's app development prowess, it's basically an appetizer for the main course. In September and October, InterKnowlogy will unveil two 3-D, touch-enabled big data visualization apps that track progress of the presidential election, said Huckaby.

Sponsored post