Occupy Cedar Valley Plans "Occupy Iowa Caucuses" Movement

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

BLACK HAWK COUNTY, Iowa – The group, "Occupy Cedar Valley," wants you to turn out for the caucuses on January third, but it wants you to vote "uncommitted."

It's a relatively unknown idea, but it has happened before in Iowa. Voters at a caucus choosing not to choose any of the candidates in the presidential race.

On January third, the UNI Dome at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls will host an estimated 3,000-4,000 registered voters. Because it is a Republican caucus, only votes for a Republican candidate will be counted. Write-in votes for undecided or uncommitted are counted and sent to Des Moines, but the GOP does not send uncommitted delegates to the nominating convention.

Tyler Vincent with Occupy Cedar Valley says that sends the wrong message to voters.

"Essentially that's saying 'Yes, we believe in freedom to vote and the right to choose a person to lead the country unless it's something we didn't approve of'," said Vincent.

But Black Hawk County GOP members say they don't believe that's true.

Chairman of the Black Hawk County Republicans, Mac McDonald says voters have plenty of time to "vet" all the candidates, and a large group of uncommitted delegate would only hurt the election process.

"If you don't know, you can always go to the national election and vote for your preference," McDonald says, "there's no candidate named 'undecided', so we're voting for candidates."

The chairman says the decision to send uncommitted delegates is left up to the state's republican party, but doubts that will happen this year, and doesn't believe it's a solution for those upset with the nominating process.

Still, the occupy group is encouraging Iowans displeased with the president and presidential candidates to decide with an undecided vote

"A message needs to be sent to the powers that be," Vincent says, "that a lot of people are not happy with what's going on right now."

An uncommitted vote could also impact even the democratic party caucuses. Black Hawk County democratic party chair Patricia Sass says they're expecting 1,000 voters to caucus at Central Middle School in Waterloo.

She says anything can happen, so they will be prepared for everything.
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