DNC plan threatens Iowa’s ‘first-in-nation’ status for election cycle

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa’s position as the first state to vote during the presidential nomination process is uncertain. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) might put in place criteria that would be difficult for Iowa to meet.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee held a meeting Monday. Members put forth a plan that would allow any U.S. state or territory to apply to host one of the early nominating contests. The proposal would look toward states that can promote diversity and a fair process.

Megan Goldberg, Assistant Professor of American Politics at Cornell College, says the fact that Iowa uses a caucus system is part of the issue. “The problem with the caucuses is that they’re really hard to participate in. They take a long time.” She also brought up the 2020 election cycle. “As many of us in Iowa know, in 2020, the Democratic caucuses were sort of a nightmare, even if individual caucuses went really well in terms of the operation and counting....The system for communicating between precincts and sort of the central offices where they were counting votes weren’t working correctly.”

Goldberg also said another concern was that Iowa was not representative of the Democratic base. “There’s also some interest in...diversifying sort of who gets a say early on in the nomination process.”

Bret Nilles is the Linn County Democratic Chair. He is hopeful Iowan Democrats can make changes that would allow the state to still go first. He pointed to some experiments that have already happened, aimed at making caucuses more accessible. “In February, we tried to do some things. Due to COVID, we had to try and be creative. So we tried to do an online type of caucus in terms of allowing people to sign in on a Google form.”

Iowa state law says the state must have its caucuses before any other state’s caucus or primary. However, party organizations are the ones in charge of the states’ caucus and primary schedule.

Goldberg said the DNC is “not really accountable” to that law.

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