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DNC Grants Initial Approval To Iowa Democrats' Satellite Caucus Plan

troy price
Clay Masters/IPR file
Iowa Public Radio
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price speaks to reporters Aug. 30, 2019.

The Democratic National Committee gave conditional approval Friday to the Iowa Democratic Party’s plan to hold satellite caucuses in addition to traditional precinct caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020.

“Satellite caucuses allow us to bring democracy closer to those who cannot attend our precinct caucuses,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price. “They will expand participation in our process. Satellite caucuses can help shift workers, people in nursing homes or retirement communities. People in group homes, students and those who live outside of Iowa, including military personnel.”

This comes two weeks after the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee rejected the state party’s plan to allow people to caucus via a teleconference system, citing cybersecurity concerns. Both of these plans have been efforts to satisfy the DNC’s new rules requiring caucus states to allow for absentee participation in 2020.

Under the satellite caucus plan, Iowa voters registered as Democrats would have to participate on caucus night. But they could do so from more possible locations.

“Our goal is to make sure these sites are truly expanding participation and not cannibalizing our precinct caucus efforts,” Price said. “Except for in some rare instances where this could help alleviate some pressure in high density overcrowded precincts.”

Price said the Iowa Democratic Party will accept applications for satellite caucus sites until Nov. 18, with the intention of publishing a list of the new sites by Dec. 18.

Some Rules and Bylaws Committee members raised concerns about the state party’s plan for allocating convention delegates based on the results of the satellite caucuses, but voted to move forward with the effort.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter