The Iowa Caucus vs. a Primary

There are several differences between a caucus and a primary election.  These differences are glaring, especially in the case of the Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus.  Like all elections, the rules,  eligibility, and voting methods vary from state to state. In presidential primaries and caucuses they can vary from party to party.

Here is our list of important concerns with the Iowa Democratic Caucus.  Certainly others could add to the list.

  • Unlike an election many voters are disenfranchised.  To participate, voters must be present for two to three hours at a designated place and time:
    • For some disabled votes, particularly the elderly, and the temporarily sick, this precludes participation.
    • Weather can be a consideration varying by age, distance to the polls, and regional conditions.
    • For those required to work, this precludes participation: Police, fire, hospital staff, etc.  Workers in warehouses, fast food, retail etc. Caregivers, parents without babysitters.
    • For those who must be away:  Business trips, overseas voters, and those attending funerals etc.
  • Unlike an election it is not a secret ballot.  Many may be intimidated either directly or by fear of actual or imagined pressure and repercussions:
    • Party members, office holders, appointed officials, and civil service employees, or those aspiring to be, may feel pressure go along with party regulars or officials.
    • Employees and union members may feel pressure to go a particular way base on the views of bosses, supervisors, union leaders, or co-workers.
    • Church and community organization members may feel pressure to go along with leaders or peers.
    • Some may want to go along with family members and neighbors.
  • The vote is a headcount in public and thus could be more transparent. Unfortunately, the transparency seems to be limited.
    • The party has refused to release the actual counts of attendees and those siding with each candidate.  Those numbers should be posted at the event, agreed to by everyone and provided in a way that is transparent and verifiable.
    • The rules for translating votes into delegates are complex. They involve careful calculation to the number finally supporting each candidate and the number originally present at the caucus even if they do not finally vote. The rules can easily be misunderstood or intentionally misapplied.

All things considered, democracy would be better served by a  primary than the Iowa Caucus.

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