Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential caucuses would break with decades of tradition in 2020 by allowing voters to cast absentee ballots and then releasing the raw total of votes won by each candidate. A Democratic National Committee panel known as the Unity Reform Commission set those changes into motion during a meeting here on Saturday, clearing the way for perhaps the most significant changes to the Iowa caucuses since they emerged as a key step in the presidential nominating process five decades ago. “There’s never been an absentee process. We’ve never released raw vote totals,” said Scott Brennan, a Des Moines attorney who serves on the DNC. “Those would seem to be pretty darn big changes.”
Reform commission members and national party leaders predicted the changes, which affect other caucus-holding states as well as Iowa, would increase voter participation, bring transparency to the nominating process and bolster grassroots activism — particularly in rural and Republican-leaning places.
At the outset of the meeting on Friday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez called the caucus reforms “game-changing.”
“Obviously we want to make sure that if you’re a shift worker you can vote in a caucus,” Perez said. “We want to make sure a member of the military or someone else who’s been left out of the process — that you can vote, that you can make sure your franchise is exercised.”