The Iowa caucus is just days away, and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is raising questions about Microsoft's involvement in 2016's first presidential primary election.
At the center of the question is Microsoft's partnership with the Iowa Democratic and Republican Parties to provide a technology platform with which the parties will run their caucuses. In a June 2015 post explaining their involvement the Redmond company states, "we are honored to support the 2016 Iowa caucus via a new, mobile-enabled, cloud-based platform that will facilitate accuracy and efficiency of the reporting process."
The process is essentially designed to enable precincts to report their results directly by party to ensure that only authorized Iowans are reporting results. Under the Microsoft system, each Iowa political party will have their own app available on all mobile and PC platforms, which will support the party’s unique caucus voting process. The results will be then be securely stored and managed in Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.
Sanders finds this arrangement suspicious, and he frequently warns that corporate power and the billionaire class are trying to hijack democracy. To no surprise then, the Sanders campaign has built their own reporting system to check the results from the official Microsoft-backed app. The group has trained its precinct captain on using the app, which is designed to be as user friendly as possible, and the campaign will also staff a hotline system as further redundancy.
Asked why they are interested in Iowa, Microsoft said in a statement to MSNBC that, "Microsoft is providing technology and services solely to administer and facilitate a neutral, accurate, efficient reporting system for the caucuses.”