Iowa Democrats to take caucus to the virtual world


    Snacks are handed out at a Democratic caucus in Anamosa in 2016. (CBS2/FOX28)<p>{/p}

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    Iowa Democratic leaders Monday announced a new option for registered party members to take part in Caucus night. The plan calls for a virtual caucus that will take place over several nights leading up to the precinct caucuses that will be accessible by phone and by smartphone app. The goal is to make sure that every Democrat in Iowa, regardless of physical condition, weather, job schedule or personal reasons, has a way to help select the party's nominee for President of the United States.

    The virtual caucus will essentially serve as an additional county in each congressional district in Iowa, and will represent 10% of each district's representation at the state convention. Users of the virtual caucus will be able to select their top 5 preferences for President, choose whether they want to put forth their name as a possible delegate, and submit platform proposals to be adopted by the party.

    “The Iowa Democratic Party has always sought ways to improve our caucus process, and today, we are setting the stage for the 2020 Iowa caucuses to be the most accessible, transparent, and successful caucuses in our party’s history,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price. “Starting almost immediately after the 2016 cycle, this party took a holistic look at how we can make the Iowa caucuses more accessible and transparent. These proposals are the result of thousands of hours of conversation and years of hard work.”

    The traditional caucus format will continue largely in tact, but those who sign up for the virtual caucus will not be allowed to participate in the precinct format to prevent any double voting. Party leaders said during a conference call that they are still working out details on the plan to ensure a secure system.

    Iowa Democrats are also creating a system in both the virtual and precinct caucuses to allow a paper trail if needed. This is to allow candidates to request a recount within 72 hours if they believe a change could impact the number of delegates each candidates receives.

    Unlike previous years, the Democrats are now required to release all raw selection data from the caucuses on precinct night. But party leaders stress that the traditional caucus format will determine the delegates awarded and not the overall count in all districts.

    All of these changes are pending public comment which will last for 30 days. In March, the state party will finalize their plans and submit them to the DNC for approval. Right now, the Iowa Caucuses are scheduled to take place on Monday, February 3, 2020. Virtual caucuses will take place every night beginning January 29 up to February 3.

    Below is an outline of the key changes:

    Virtual Caucusing

    Over the course of six days, registered Democrats who have signed up with the Iowa Democratic Party will be able to participate in one of six virtual caucuses by phone or smart device. Virtual caucus-goers will be able to rank up to five choices for president. The total result of the six caucuses will account for 10% of Iowa’s caucus delegates.

    Streamlined Realignment

    Under the IDP proposal, only members of non-viable groups will be allowed to realign in their precinct caucuses. For viable preference groups, their first alignment numbers will be locked and can only increase if members of non-viable groups choose to join.

    Recount/Recanvass

    Presidential campaigns will be able to ask for a recount of the caucus results either by congressional district or statewide if they can show that the result could affect the allocation of delegates to the national convention. To aid in this effort, presidential preference cards will be used to record what happens in each precinct caucus, while virtual caucus preferences will be recorded electronically and preserved.

    Caucus Night Results are Locked

    The allocation of national delegates will now be determined by the results on caucus night, not as a result of the convention process.

    More Information Released: The IDP plans to release the raw totals from the first alignment, final alignment and the state delegate equivalents earned by each presidential preference group. State delegate equivalents will be used to determine the allocation of national delegates.

    More Information Released

    The IDP plans to release the raw totals from the first alignment, final alignment and the state delegate equivalents earned by each presidential preference group. State delegate equivalents will be used to determine the allocation of national delegates.

    To provide your own public comment on the changes, click here.

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