Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) Chair Scott Brennan today announced new proposals to expand participation in the Iowa Democratic Precinct Caucuses. IDP begun a process earlier this year to examine the caucus process. The party wanted to see what could be done to give more people access to the caucus process.
Precinct caucuses being held a particular time does limit the number of people who can participate unlike a primary where voting takes place all day.
“The Iowa Caucuses are democracy in its purest form, and the ideas outlined will help make this great process even better,” said IDP Chair Brennan. “We have engaged in an open and honest discussion with a wide cross-section of our grassroots and our Democratic leaders and activists, and these recommendations come directly from what we heard in more than 150 conversations. I am proud to say that these proposals will create new opportunities for Iowans to participate, while ensuring the Iowa Caucuses will continue to be a neighborhood gathering where friends, neighbors and loved ones come together to have an open and honest discussion about the direction of our country.”
These are the recommendations made by IDP:
1. Time-Off to Caucus Legislation – The Iowa Democratic Party will work with the legislature and Governor to pass legislation that will require employers to let non-essential workers take time off to attend their precinct caucus. This step gives working men and women greater flexibility to participate.
2. Caucus Accessibility Director – The Iowa Democratic Party will hire a Caucus Accessibility Director who will work directly with counties across the state to ensure that each caucus site is as accessible as possible, and to help implement the proposals outlined here.
3. Supervised Activities for Children – Many county parties already provide some form of activity for children during the caucuses, allowing parents with children to participate. The Iowa Democratic Party will work with our county parties to expand these opportunities at caucus sites so that Iowans with limited access to childcare can participate.
4. Satellite Caucuses – For those Iowa Democrats that cannot participate due to limitations of mobility, distance, or time, the Iowa Democratic Party will look to implement a satellite caucus system. This option would be available to a group of Democrats who demonstrate a need to add an additional caucus site. Those interested would have to meet certain yet-to-be-determined criteria, and petition the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee, which would have final approval.
5. Military Tele-Caucus – The Iowa Democratic Party will create a statewide precinct for Iowans serving in the military and conduct a tele-caucus with those who participate. This tele-caucus would be no different than a normal caucus. Participants would still break into preference groups and allow for realignment.
Brennan was in Washington, DC today and presented these proposals during the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting which currently is considering rules for the 2016 Presidential selection process.
The Republican Party of Iowa responded.
“I recently had a productive phone conversation with Iowa Democratic Party chairman Scott Brennan,” Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann said. “We agreed that there will be strong, bipartisan cooperation to do anything it takes to protect Iowa’s first in the nation caucuses.”
“Chairman Brennan and I have agreed to sit down as soon as possible this month to have in-depth, face-to-face conversations about the Democrats’ proposals and Republican ideas to strengthen the caucuses. In the spirit of good faith negotiations, I will withhold any specific comments on the Iowa Democrats’ proposals on the caucuses until then,” Kaufmann said.