Governor gets bill requiring in-person participation in Iowa Caucuses

DES MOINES — Republicans in the legislature have sent the governor a bill they say will secure Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Caucuses. It will require participants attend the precinct meetings in person.

Democrats in the House and Senate opposed the bill, saying it will derail their plan to have mail-in voting for their party’s 2024 Caucuses. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls said the bill is “petty, partisan” and “flagrantly” unconstitutional.

“It will take away Iowa Democrats’ constitutional rights to set our own rules and processes and it will virtually require that Caucuses remain less accessible, less lower ‘d’ democratic than our state deserves,” Wahls said.

Republicans like Senator Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center say New Hampshire’s seeretary of state will move his state’s Presidential Primary ahead of Iowa’s Caucuses, if Democrats use mail-in balloting. “The whole idea of a Caucus is you meet in person, face to face,” Taylor said. “You get together with your neighbors…To me, that’s a tradition that’s worth protecting.”

Taylor, who’s a political science professor at Dordt University, said mail-in voting raises all sorts of security issues. “The idea of having a Caucus versus a primary has value. Yes, the turnout is lower. In some ways it could be less accessible, but this is nothing new,” Taylor said. “This is an institution that we’ve had in our state since 1972.”

Wahls said there’s “no meaningful distinction” between the straw poll that Republicans hold on Caucus night and the Democrats’ mail in concept. “Iowa Republicans are bringing an end to decades of bipartisan cooperation to protect Iowa’s first in the nation Caucuses,” Wahls said. “That’s what’s happening. It’s a sad day for the state of Iowa.”

Governor Reynolds has expressed support for the concepts in the bill.