Caucusing for Dummies
Thu, 01/30/2020 - 2:42pm admin
—An easy-to-understand Iowa caucus
Marcie Klomp ~ News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard County - Unless you live under a rock, the general public is probably aware that Iowa will be caucusing on Monday, Feb. 3.
That means Iowans are the first voters to cast their ballot in the nation out of a large pool of candidates for an individual he or she feels possesses many of the same values as him or herself.
It is the benchmark of which candidates residents would like to see on the presidential ballot in November. It has been said that Iowa weeds out the losers.
Both parties hold precinct caucuses in Iowa, which are taking place on Monday, Feb. 3. The County Convention is on March 21, the District Convention is on April 25 and the State Convention is on June 13.
• Elma Memorial Hall—Afton, Howard and Paris Townships
• Lime Springs Community Center — Albion, Saratoga, Howard Center, Chester and Forest City Townships and Lime Springs
• Crestwood High School — Cresco 1A, Cresco 1B, Cresco 2 and Cresco 3 and New Oregon (including Protivin) and Vernon Springs Townships
• Riceville High School — Jamestown and Oakdale Townships and Riceville (Howard County)
• Innovative Ag Services Meeting Room (Elma) — Afton, Howard, Paris, Jamestown and Oakdale Townships and Elma and Riceville City
• Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), Cresco — Albion, Forest City, New Oregon, Howard Center, Saratoga and Vernon Springs Townships and Cities of Protivin, Chester and Cresco
Iowa became First-in-the-Nation quite by accident. Because of a scheduling conflict in 1972, the Iowa caucus was moved to an earlier date than New Hampshire, which has a primary.
In that year, Jimmy Carter focused on Iowa and did better than expected. It gave him the media and party coverage that helped launch his successful 1976 run for president.
Republicans and Democrats vary in how they are set up, but there are also similarities. Caucus goers must be registered members of the party’s caucus they are attending. They are allowed to change their party that night. They can change back at a later date.
The doors close on the caucus at 7 p.m. Those in line can still attend, but anyone coming after 7 p.m. is barred from entering.
At the end of the night, Republicans elect and Democrats assign delegates to the county committee of their party. Attendees also discuss issues or resolutions that are near and dear to their hearts that the delegates will take to the county convention.
During an informational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Howard County Democratic Chair Laura Hubka addressed a group of individuals with some questions.
• Some party individuals have already volunteered to run the caucus. He or she will start the caucus by saying, “I am nominating myself to be chairman.” Others may step up as well. Attendees will vote on the chairman, who will conduct the meeting.
• Letters will be read from the candidates or representatives. Those on the Iowa caucus ballot include Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.
• Caucus-goers can then vote on their candidate by standing in a group, physically declaring their choice. The candidates who have 15% of the votes will be one of the four elected. If you voted for one of the candidates elected in the first round, you can leave.
If not, another vote will be taken.
• Attendees can volunteer to be a delegate or alternate to the county convention on March 21 at Lime Springs Community Center.
• The number of “votes” each candidate receives is tallied and given a percentage of those participating. That number will represent the candidate at the county convention.
Howard County Chair Neil Shaffer doesn’t feel the Republican caucuses will be as busy or long with just three candidates, sitting President Donald Trump and contenders Joe Walsh and Bill Weld. He anticipates the caucus itself not lasting more than 15 minutes.
Like the Democrats, the Republicans will have speakers or have letters read in favor of their particular candidate, then attendees will cast a ballot.
Shaffer expects between six to 12 issues to be brought forward for the county platform.
New this year
• As stated before, caucus-goers can leave when they have voted.
• There was one person at the meeting who will be at a convention in Washington, D.C. She signed up to attend a satellite location with other Iowans there. Other satellite locations include quite a few in Iowa at different times to accommodate voters and several in Arizona and Florida for the snow birds as well as some international sites, including Paris and Glasgow.
No matter which political party you belong to, plan to caucus on Monday to have your voice heard. It is your right.