Cancel Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status

Cancel Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status

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We call upon the Democratic National Committee to cancel Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus status, and give the honor of holding the first votes/caucus in a presidential primary to another state.

 

We note:

1) Iowa is a caucus state, which systematically disenfranchises large swaths of the electorate. Because caucus-goers must convene for several hours on a Tuesday evening, working adults who cannot leave work, and parents who can neither find nor afford childcare for their small children, are excluded from participating in the primary. As a result of the exclusionary nature of the caucus, participation is traditionally low.

2) Moreover, as a caucus state, Iowa denies democratic participants the opportunity to cast a secret ballot. Democratic theorists argue that secret ballots are essential to capturing the collective wisdom of the electorate. Otherwise, caucus-goers may be vulnerable to public pressure to support certain candidates when they see each other's political preferences in real time. 

3) Furthermore, Iowa's caucus disadvantages second-tier candidates whose supporters are forced to join the caucuses of larger, more established candidates when their caucus does not meet the 15% threshold. As a first-in-the-nation primary event, the national electorate is oftentimes largely undecided by this point, and filtering out second-tier candidates at such an early stage muffles diversity of thought within the party.  

4) Iowa is not a racially diverse state. Over 90% of the electorate is white, which disadvantages candidates of color and those from non-traditional backgrounds. Would it not be more strategic for the Democratic party to allow a state whose demographics more closely align with those of the United States at large to weigh in earlier in the process?

5) Iowa is a small state (commanding 6 electoral votes during the presidential election). Surely, the Democratic party would benefit by allowing the voters of larger swing states with more electoral influence to judge the presidential field first, since those states are more likely to prove decisive during the general election.

6) Given the failed caucus of February 3, 2020 – as of noon on February 4, results have still not been made public – party organizers in Iowa have proven themselves incapable of running a smooth and effective primary. By contracting a small and unproven app “developer” (Shadow, Inc.) and failing to thoroughly vet their application, the caucus organizers have demonstrated their inability to modernize election technology in a way that is secure, usable, and reliable.

 

Therefore, we ask the Democratic National Committee to inform their counterparts in Iowa that they will not be allowed to host the first primary event of the 2024 presidential cycle. The Democratic National Committee should then begin an open and public process of evaluating other states that may be better suited for the privilege.

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