DES MOINES, Iowa – A 30-day public comment period is underway in Iowa to find out how Democratic voters feel about using “virtual” caucuses in the next presidential primary.
Iowa’s nominating contest traditionally kicks off the presidential primary season, and has sometimes been criticized for a lack of accessibility. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price says virtual caucuses would create an option to vote by phone or on a digital “smart” device.
“They just have to dial in, use the information that is provided when they sign up, and they’ll be able to dial in and participate in the caucus, and press up to five choices for president, their rank for presidential preference,” says Price.
Price says the change would modernize the candidate selection process. The 30-day comment period ends March 13. It would also need by approval from the party’s state central committee and the Democratic National Committee.
The Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses are scheduled for February 3, 2020.
The Democratic National Committee has given itself a mandate to make its caucuses more accessible. Right now, only those who attend an Iowa caucus in person can vote. Price says there are nearly 1,700 precincts across Iowa, and thinks a more efficient system is overdue.
“There is no excuse needed to participate in a virtual caucus,” says Price. “So this gives folks who just have not had that opportunity in the past – single parents who can’t find childcare, people with mobility issues, people with disabilities – this gives them an opportunity to have their voice heard in the process.”
If adopted, Iowa’s Democratic Party members would choose either in-person or virtual participation, but not both. The first 2020 primary takes place in New Hampshire in early February of that year, after the Iowa caucuses.