Iowa City Transit adds four extra routes on caucus night ahead of expected record-breaking turnout

New bus routes and accessibility efforts are part of a collective effort to increase access to tonight’s Iowa caucuses.

Caleb McCullough, Politics Reporter

In an effort to improve access to the Iowa caucuses, Iowa City Transit will add new bus routes serving caucus locations on Monday.

The routes will be available at normal cost and include many caucus locations outside of the regular Iowa City Transit routes.

Four new bus routes have been added to service caucus sites in Iowa City:

The Johnson County Fairgrounds Shuttle will service the Democratic and Republican caucus locations at the Johnson County Fairgrounds, 4265 Oak Crest Hill Road SE.

The Terry Trueblood/Alexander Elementary Shuttle will run to the Democratic caucus site at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, 579 McCollister Blvd., and the Republican site at Alexander Elementary, 3571 Sycamore St.

The Alexander Elementary Shuttle will service the Democratic caucus location at Alexander Elementary School.

The Clarion/ICCSD Building Shuttle will run to the Republican caucus location at the Iowa City Community School District’s Office Building, 1725 N. Dodge St., and the Democratic location at the Clarion Hotel, 2525 N. Dodge St.

A complete list of bus routes to Iowa City caucus locations can be found on the Iowa City government website. 

The Johnson County Democrats have warned that parking will be an issue at high-density precinct locations like those on campus. In a news release on Jan. 21, they urged caucusgoers to carpool or use public transportation.

Density and crowd size are huge concerns among caucus organizers in Johnson County, as they plan for what is expected to be a record caucus-night turnout.

“I can’t build a building. I can’t build a parking lot,” Johnson County organizer John Deeth said in a Jan. 16 interview. “And there’s some places where the biggest room in or anywhere near the precinct is just not big enough anymore.”

Deeth said he predicts campus locations to draw 500-700 people, and he expects some precinct locations in Iowa City to exceed 1,000 people.

In order to caucus, Iowans need to be registered with a political party in order to participate in that party’s caucus. Caucusgoers can register or change their registration tonight at their caucus sites.

The Iowa Democratic Party is not requiring any materials be brought for registration or participation, but new registrants need to know the last four digits of their social security number or Iowa driver’s license number to fill out the registration form. New Republican caucusgoers will need to bring an ID to register at the party’s caucuses, according to its website.

Specific caucus sites are based on the address of the caucusgoer, and can be found on the Iowa Democratic Party or Iowa Republican Party websites. Hawk the Vote, a campus nonpartisan organization that encourages University of Iowa students to participate in the political process, has caucus sites listed for students living in the residence halls.

Transportation options have been expanded elsewhere in the state as well.

On Jan. 29, the Iowa Democratic Party announced it was partnering with the Iowa Republican Party and the Des Moines Area Transit Authority to provide free rides on caucus night in and around Des Moines.

“Thanks to this partnership with DART and the Iowa Republican Party, countless Iowans in Central Iowa will have a way of making it out to their local precinct,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in a news release.

Opening access to the 2020 caucuses has been a top priority for the Iowa Democratic Party. After the Democratic National Committee denied their plan to hold virtual caucuses in August, the party introduced satellite caucuses, caucuses that will be held outside the normal precinct locations to accommodate for people who would not otherwise be able to attend normal caucus locations.

“We feel pretty good that this process will expand accessibility, bring new people into the process,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in an interview with The Daily Iowan in October. “That’s really what it’s designed to do.”

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