The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Replace the caucuses

The history and sentiments of the caucus could sure be missed, but elections are not the place to make sacrifices to quality.
Jordan Barry
City council member Mazahir Salih collects donations from caucusgoers during the Iowa Democratic caucuses at City High School in Iowa City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

The only thing better than historical traditions is a functional and secure democracy.

With the presidential caucuses fast approaching and the presidential election later this year, now is a better time than ever to reevaluate the technical aspects by which the U.S. as a whole and the individual states carry out this beautiful and sacred idea of democracy.

Upon examination of Iowa’s methods, we can find a major concern that is the caucus system itself. A slew of people gathering in one room and sorting themselves into specified areas carries a worrisome margin of error and risk of confusion, especially when you factor in brand new technologies that attempt to streamline the process but often end up complicating it.

While the caucuses are at least an entertaining way of conducting primaries, the fact is that they are not efficient or reliable as they should be. We should not be cutting corners when it comes to primaries and elections, and thus, Iowa should scrap the caucus system in favor of a normal primary system.

For a prime example of the risks and potential downfalls of the caucus system, look no further than the most recent presidential election cycle, just four years ago. What was supposed to be a calm, routine night turned into a brouhaha characterized by mass confusion, delayed results, and a party in crisis mode.

The risks of the caucus can’t be completely patched with compromises or modernization of the caucus prospect; in fact, attempts to do just that were largely behind the chaos. The Iowa Democratic Party attempted to use an app for reporting results, and even though there were no issues with app itself, the process of downloading and using the app proved tedious and confusing, which compromised the accuracy and reliability of the Iowa caucuses.

As a result of an honest but deeply miscalculated effort to modernize the caucuses, we saw coin flips to determine precinct winners, Pete Buttigieg’s eagerness to declare victory in the midst of the mess, and a very frustrated nation.

The 2020 Iowa caucuses disaster also left the reputations of the state and national Democratic party in jeopardy, leading to multiple resignations and widespread distrust amongst voters. After such a mess of a caucus, how can one blame the voters for their mistrust? The 2020 Iowa caucuses were a clear a reason as there ever could be that the system should be replaced.

Maybe there is a perfect way out there to craft the caucus system that runs with perfect efficiency and security. Until we discover that, Iowa is better off joining everyone else in the 21st century and ensuring a stable primary system.

Ultimately, the risks that are exclusive to the caucus system are totally unnecessary, and, as we saw four years ago, carry the potential for disaster. Our electoral system is absolutely not a place we should be prioritizing tradition over quality in, and the caucus system must go. Sentiment is a beautiful thing, but it has no place
in democracy.









Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributor
Evan Weidl, Opinions Editor
Evan Weidl is a senior majoring in political science. He previously worked in the opinions section as a columnist.