Democratic leaders in Iowa on Monday proposed a major change in the state’s presidential caucuses by allowing a form of absentee voting next year that aims to expand participation in the first 2020 nominating contest. It would let Iowa Democrats take part via telephone or online in one of six “virtual caucuses” during the week before the traditional Iowa caucuses. That would allow people to get involved even if they can’t attend the traditional gatherings in person because of a disability, work, parenting or another reason. If adopted it “will be the most significant changes to the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses since their inception in 1972,” Troy Price, the state party’s chairman, told reporters on a conference call.
The proposal, which still needs to be approved by a central party committee in Iowa and the Democratic National Committee, calls for the virtual meetings to generate roughly 10 percent of the delegates that will be awarded from each of the state’s four congressional districts. That could mean that virtual participation will carry less voting weight than in-person participation.
The results of the virtual caucuses won’t be made public until caucus night, but the presidential campaigns will be able to learn who has already participated and take those people off their get-out-the-vote lists.