National Vote At Home Institute to handle Iowa Democrats’ presidential preference voting

DES MOINES — The Iowa Democratic Party has hired a national consulting firm to handle the party’s first-ever mail-in system to determine which presidential candidate Democrats in Iowa prefer.

The traditional Iowa Democratic Party Caucuses are no longer first in the nation after a software meltdown significantly delayed reporting results from the party’s caucuses in 2020. The Iowa Democratic Party is now letting Iowa residents who are registered Democratic voters request a presidential preference cards. The cards will be mailed in and the results will be announced in March. Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart uses the word “impressive” to describe the firm hired to handle the party’s new mail-in system.

“I am confident in this vendor,” Hart told Radio Iowa. “Amber McReynolds has a very strong reputation. She and her firm have had 50 years of experience doing this kind of work.”

McReynolds was Denver’s director of elections for nearly a decade before founding the non-profit National Vote at Home Institute in 2018. Hart said McReynolds, who has started her own consulting firm, advised three states that launched mail-in voting in 2020.

“Amber McReynolds and her team were able to get them through that process without a hitch,” Hart said.

Iowa Democratic Party leaders say compared to the previous Caucus night system, more voters will be able to participate by mail.

“We’re confident in it,” Hart said. “We know it’s going to be accessible. We know it’s going to be transparent and we know it’s going to be accurate.”

The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee will meet Saturday to determine what names will be listed on the presidential preference cards. Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips is challenging President Biden, but Hart dismissed the idea Phillips has a shot at beating Biden.

“I don’t think he does,” Hart said. “I think President Biden is definitely going to be our candidate. There’s no question about that.”

The mail-in system replaces the way Iowa Democrats determined who won the most delegates assigned to each precinct. It involved counting people, calculating percentages and forcing people to go with a second choice if their preferred candidate didn’t have enough support in the room.

“It’s going to be so much easier and no math,” Hart said. “When I announce this sometimes when I’m on the road talking to groups of Democrats, they cheer when I say: ‘There’s no math.”

Iowa Democrats — like Iowa Republicans — will hold in-person Caucuses on January 15, 2024. While Republicans will conduct a straw poll that evening, Democrats will only conduct party business by identifying party volunteers, developing policy statements that may wind up in the party’s platform and selecting delegates for the county conventions. Hart expects Caucus-night turnout to be similar to when President Obama was seeking a second term and about 25,000 Iowa Democrats participated in the party’s 2012 Caucuses.

“This is a new animal,” Hart said. “We’ll be just working to see that we get as many people to participate as possible.”

The Iowa Democratic Party will start mailing out its 2024 presidential preference cards on January 15. Registered Iowa Democrats have until February 19 to request a card. The results will be announced on March 5. More than a half dozen other states are holding primaries that Tuesday.