Democrats give Iowa more time, hope to keep Caucuses first

Iowa Democrats approve mail in caucus plan
Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 3:41 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A committee with the Democratic Party has given Iowa more time to adjust its plan for the 2024 Caucuses to meet national standards as Iowa fights to stay at the top of the Presidential nominating process.

During a meeting in Minnesota Friday, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee said Iowa’s plan for a mail-in Caucus does not meet its standards because it does not set a date for the Caucus. It gave Iowa and other states 30 days to adjust its plan to meet standards. There are also legal questions of whether a mail-in caucus would meet state law after Iowa Republicans enacted a law this year banning mail-in caucuses for fear that would essentially make it a primary.

The DNC earlier this year opted to remove Iowa from its traditional leadoff spot, following embarrassing technical glitches that marred the 2020 Iowa Caucuses. Instead, the DNC selected South Carolina to hold the first primary, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire, then Michigan and Georgia holding contests before the March 12th Super Tuesday.

New Hampshire and Georgia also received 30 days to adjust their plan even as each state insists it will not be able to move its date to meet that calendar. New Hampshire’s state constitution requires it hold the first primary and has vowed to move up its primary date ahead of any other state. Georgia says its Republican-controlled state government has refused to allow the state to move up its primary date ahead of Super Tuesday. Neither of those states appears able to change those dates within the 30-day deadline from the DNC. Iowa is hoping it can still move up to claim one of those slots.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart says she was not surprised that Iowa’s plan was not approved, admitting it needed to have more specifics added.

“We recognize there are some missing pieces in our draft delegate selection plan, but it is intentionally designed to be flexible so that we can respond to the continued chaos surrounding the Presidential nominating calendar,” Hart stated.

Iowa’s plan would include still include traditional in-person Caucus that would remain 8-days before any other state’s primary. It also allows voters to request a preference card ahead of Caucus Day that could then be submitted by mail in an effort to allow more people to participate in the process. The plan does not detail the date Iowa Democrats would tally those cards and announce results. The DNC committee said Iowa must ensure its preference cards deadline is March 5, 2024 or later, so as not to have Iowa supersede one of the first 5 states it has selected.

The plan may also not pass a new state law Iowa Republicans passed specifically outlawing mail-in ballots for a caucus to select a presidential preference. The Republican Party has already locked in Iowa’s caucuses in the traditional leadoff position with New Hampshire then holding the first primary. Iowa leaders worry a mail-in system would be viewed as effectively a primary. That could trigger New Hampshire to move up its primary date ahead of Iowa in order to adhere to the requirement in its state constitution that it hold the first presidential primary.