Iowa Democrats planning to hold Caucuses on same night as Iowa Republicans

DES MOINES — The Iowa Democratic Party is proposing that its 2024 Caucuses be held on the same night as the Iowa G-O-P’s Caucuses.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s plan calls for using a mail-in system to determine which presidential candidate gets the most backing from Iowa Democrats. The proposal does not indicate when the results would be announced, though. It could be a way for Iowa Democrats to avoid sanctions from the Democratic National Committee for holding Caucuses on the same night as Iowa Republicans. In early February, national Democratic Party leaders decided five other states would go first in voting for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Iowa legislature have a bill that would require in-person participation in both parties’ Caucuses. During a Senate subcommittee hearing this morning, Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, said New Hampshire may schedule its presidential primary before Iowa’s Caucuses if the Caucuses aren’t conducted in person.

“If we don’t do Caucuses the way Caucuses are actually defined, which is a collection of people coming together and deciding a candidate, they will move ahead of us as the first primary according to their own law,” Schultz said.

The bill was approved by the Iowa House this week and is likely to be debated in the Iowa Senate Thursday. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, said the First Amendment guarantees political parties the right of assembly — to hold meetings and determine their own rules.

“That’s what we’re doing when we have a Caucus,” Quirmbach said. “We bring our people together. We form a platform, at least our Democratic Party forms a platform, and we set a course for making changes in government.”

Iowa Democrats have held call-in and virtual Caucus gatherings in the past, and are proposing a mail-in system for 2024 as a way to address complaints that the Caucuses are inaccessible to workers who can’t get time off and others who cannot attend on Caucus night.