Iowa Democratic Party outlines proposed caucus changes for 2020

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Democratic Party outlined changes they are looking to implement to the 2020 caucus process, pending a public comment period and further approval.

The biggest change is the addition of a "virtual caucus," which will take place in six rolling sessions ahead of and on caucus night on February 3, 2020. Attendees can participate through telephone or smart device. The virtual caucus takes the place of an in-person event if a person chooses to go that way.

Virtual caucus participants will rank their top five choices for the party's nominee for President.

Virtual caucus results for all six sessions will be announced after the final session concludes on the in-person caucus night. 10 percent of statewide delegates will be apportioned through this process.

Another significant change proposed is to the way the party chooses delegates to the Democratic National Convention for expressing formal nominating preferences from the state. National delegates will be apportioned on caucus night based on precinct results and cannot be changed. Currently, the party holds conventions at various levels where delegate counts could be changed due to various factors.

An additional proposal includes a new way of handling realignment for non-viable candidate groups. Only participants from candidates who fail to meet the 15 percent threshold for a delegate will be able to realign after the first head count is taken. Currently, any participant could realign after the first count.

A new recount process would also be implemented, which candidates could request within 72 hours of the caucus night if they believe a change in result would affect national delegate apportionment. To allow for this, a paper record of caucus preference will be created.

On caucus night, the Iowa Democratic Party will release raw totals from first candidate alignment, final alignment, and state delegate equivalents for each candidate. Previously, only state delegate equivalent totals were released by the party.

Officials said they were looking to implement the changes to make the caucus process more accessible to more Iowans, having formed the Unity Reform Commission after the 2016 caucus.

“The Iowa Democratic Party has always sought ways to improve our caucus process, and today, we are setting the stage for the 2020 Iowa caucuses to be the most accessible, transparent, and successful caucuses in our party’s history,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in a statement.

A 30 day public comment period starts today. After which, it will still need final approval from the Democratic National Committee.