DNC approves Iowa Democratic Party’s plan to host satellite caucuses, including at out-of-state college campuses

The national Democratic Party approved Iowa’s new delegate selection plan this week to host satellite caucus locations, replacing the struck-down virtual caucus plan. The satellite locations, which people could apply for, would include out-of-state college campuses with high Iowa student populations.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price discusses the Iowa caucuses in an interview for The Daily Iowan at Prairie Lights on Friday, May 5, 2019. (Jenna Galligan)

Caleb McCullough, Politics Reporter

Iowans will be able to apply to hold satellite caucuses at sites around the state and beyond under the Iowa Democratic Party’s new delegate-selection plan.

The Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee conditionally approved the Iowa Democratic Party’s updated caucus plans on Sept. 20, which feature opportunities for Democrats to apply to hold satellite caucuses at the same date and time as the Feb. 3 caucuses.

In a press release Sept. 20, the state party detailed its plans to expand accessibility at the caucuses. The decision comes after the party’s original virtual caucus plan was rejected by the DNC in August because of security concerns.

“There are many challenges with developing a new system, especially in such a short period of time,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in a statement Sept. 20. “And a satellite caucus system is the best possible solution to build on the great work of caucus organizers and keep focused on our goal of giving more Iowans a voice in our party and building momentum up-and-down the ticket in 2020.”

Opportunities for satellite caucuses will be available to Iowa Democrats who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend their designated caucus location. The plan will be useful in such places as factories, nursing homes, and community gatherings, the statement said.

Satellite caucuses could also be held outside Iowa, at suc places as military bases and out-of-state colleges with high Iowa student populations.

The Iowa Democratic Party will create a committee that will oversee applications and determine approval, the statement said. Satellite caucuses will be counted an additional “county” in each congressional district.

The procedures in place will ensure the 2020 caucuses are the most transparent and accessible caucuses in our state’s history,” the statement said.

The Iowa Democratic Party has not said how many people it expects to participate in satellite caucuses, but Linn County Democratic Chair Bret Nilles said he expects participation to be significantly below what it would have been with a virtual caucus.

He said people such as police officers and health-care workers who can’t take the time off will still be unable to participate in the satellite caucuses.

“It is disappointing that the virtual caucus on the phone or on the PC wasn’t going to work,” Nilles said. “I think that really did open up the potential for a lot more people participating.”


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