The Iowa Caucus on February 4, 2020, encountered some technical issues causing concern over whether the results are accurate or not. There has been a request for a recanvass and if that recanvass does not happen the legitimacy of those results and upcoming results will be in question.
Democracy has survived off the belief of the people that there is the existence of a government which has attained its power through a democratic process of free elections . With the primaries for the 2020 election beginning, new technology has brought concerns over the legitimacy of the election, or caucus, results. A key indicator of democratic erosion is the nation’s rejection of “democratic rules of the game,” this being if there is an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of elections . The democratic method is an institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions by having individuals obtain the power to decide by having a competition to get people’s votes . When there is interference with this competition, whether that be by technological malfunctions or by hacker attempts, it causes constituents to question if their vote is actually what is deciding who is governing them.
Although the Iowa Caucus held on February 3, 2020 was not a purposeful attempt to undermine the legitimacy of elections, the malfunction in obtaining results has caused questions of if the results are in fact accurate. Leaders in the caucus, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders have requested a recanvass. The Democratic party has the opportunity to accept Buttigieg and Sander’s request for a recanvass or deny it. To deny this request would be telling the public that they do not value the truth of the results of the Iowa caucus.
The Iowa caucus used a newly developed smartphone app that the Democratic party in Iowa paid $60,000 for. That seemingly low cost has caused people to question whether the app was fully developed and tested to make sure that it was fully functional. Some Iowa caucus officials showed concern that the app would be targeted by hackers but did not reveal those concerns until after the caucuses were completed.
This concern may have come from the alleged hacking of the 2016 election by Russia. Although there has not been any hard evidence that Russia did successfully manipulate the 2016 voting systems, there have been traces of Russia’s probing being aimed at databases of registered voters. Hackers have the ability to manipulate American politics considering 13 states, many being populous like Pennsylvania, are using paperless voting and many others seem to be moving towards that. All 50 states already use computer systems for their voting count and there is little auditing on those machines. This leads the United States population to question if the results of the 2016 election are legitimate or not.
The inability of a government to maintain legitimacy within elections is an issue for democracy as a whole within the United States. Legitimacy is fluctuating and just because elections have gone without corruption in the past does not mean they will be unaffected in the future . The Iowa caucus now seeming illegitimate had caused top candidates, Sanders and Buttigieg, to ask for a recanvass. The narrow margin between the two candidates’ voting results is very small and although Sanders claimed victory because he had the highest supporter turn out, Buttigieg took the lead in Iowa. A recount would allow constituents to be secure that their votes still matter. Linz, Jaun J. and Alfred Stepan. (1978). The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press
 Levitsky, Steven & Daniel Ziblatt. (2018). How Democracies Die. New York: Crown.
 Schumpeter, Joseph. (1943). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper & Brothers.
I agree that there is concern over the legitimacy of the Iowa caucuses, but I would argue that this concern does not cause the entire election to have issues with legitimacy. It seems to me that it is generally understood (and I’m using anecdotal evidence, from conversations I have with friends who are not well-versed in politics) that the caucus is not a typical method for voting in the primary, and that the Iowa caucuses, while an absolute disaster, were not the norm for American primary voting. The app used in the Iowa caucuses was a mess, but technology as a general voting mechanism (while definitely presenting its own issues) has not necessarily thrown us into national voting legitimacy crises like the statewide ones in the Iowa caucuses. While the caucuses were definitely concerning and a sign of issues within the Democratic Party, I don’t think it’s accurate to say they’re a harbringer of legitimacy breakdown in the 2020 election.
(also, just to be picky, yes the Iowa caucus results may be thrown into turmoil, but at the end of the day, unless we have a hung/very close convention, which is admittedly a possibility, they won’t change much–Iowa is responsible for just over 1% of delegates)