Iowa Democrats consider absentee and online caucus voting

In an attempt to attract more voters, Democratic party leaders are thinking about changing the Iowa Presidential Caucus by including absentee ballots and online voting.

The idea came after the 2008 presidential election, when Hillary Clinton lost the state of Iowa. The Democratic Party partially blamed the way the Iowa Caucus is set up; its long hours and late start excluding blue-collar workers who work the night shift.

Roxanna Moritz, the Scott County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections, said taking away the personal side of caucuses could defeat the purpose.

“A caucus is an open-ended conversation where you share how you feel, you get in preferential groups and so people see who you’re supporting,” said Moritz. “Everyone really knows what you’re thinking, what you’re doing, and how you’re supporting that individual.”

Moritz said the other problem are absentee ballots, which are handled by the county auditor, can’t be distributed by the caucus party.

“We have 99 counties just in Iowa and 63 counties in Scott County, so we start doing absentees 45 days before an election,” said Moritz. “In the presidential election we saw 45,000 absentee requests. So if caucuses were to garner more support and more people participating, I don’t know how the parties would be able to handle that.”

Although absentee ballots and online voting may help include people who can’t attend caucuses, like blue-collar workers, overseas soldiers, and the disabled, Moritz said those changes will mostly take away from the event altogether.

“You’re going to take away from that one-on-one, that personal touch and seeing how someone feels,” Moritz said.

Iowa Democrats will present their ideas for attracting new voters to the National Democratic Party, starting August 1.

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