The Caucuses Weren't A Disaster They Just Played One On TV

Hey, here's a secret for all y'all...  the Iowa Caucuses actually went pretty well. Reporting the results is where it all went sideways. I wasn't particularly impressed by the State Party's Response and I was even less impressed with the DNC's response to all of this.

The Missus and I came out to caucus in Iowa City's 17th Precinct. 800 people showed up to caucus, so getting us all in there was something of a logisitical nightmare, but once things got going, they went pretty well and by 10pm, we were all done and dusted. Sanders and Warren cleared the first two rounds comfortably and we rallied enough Biden folks on the 2nd Alignment that we got Amy Klobuchar to viability by the end of the night.

Apart from being cornered by a Yang Ganger for a sales pitch (they had a decent contingent of people-- more than I expected to be honest) the experience was overall good. For all you can say about different ways of voting, caucuses do have their drawbacks, but I got to physically hand my vote to someone and watch it get counted. Can't hack what you can see with your own eyes.

By all accounts, the caucuses themselves were well run and went smoothly on the ground. Things went sideways when they used that goddamn app to report results AND the phone number to call in to report results got leaked on 4chan with predictably consequences. So, let's break this shit down:

1. Y'all know my druthers. Keep the first four the first four but rotate the order. If you're going to take it away from Iowa- don't give it to a big state. (Unless you're a pro-Establishment, pro-billionaire schill. Then go ahead.)

2. Tom Perez should have resigned already as at least two-thirds of this mess can be laid at the feet of the DNC. They nixed the State Party's virtual caucus idea, but were okay with an app? What? (I wasn't particularly impressed with IDP Chairman Troy Price's press conference either, but if you're gonna call on him to resign, Perez should go too.)

3. Caucus Day should be a. On A Saturday or b. A Statewide Holiday. Pick one.

4. Best part about moving the show to a Saturday or a making it a holiday? We don't have to do everything at 7pm! Caucses can open at 10am and go right through to 7pm. (We've got four Congressional Districts, so let's say Noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm start times? Rotate them around?) This allows for results to come in throughout the day to keep the media happy, because without results, they weren't happy.

5. Caucusing is essentially ranked choice voting, but in person. Instead of dicking around with virtual caucus ideas, do this. Six weeks before caucus day is the deadline for people to request a postal ballot. Make it a ranked choice ballot. Open and count them on caucus day and make the postal vote count for 30% of the delegates.

6. Bumping up the Satellite Caucus thing. That was a nice trend and I'd like to see more of it-- there were caucuses ars far away as Tblisi and they had translation into Nepali for folks at one precinct. (Oh and for all the complaints I saw about accesibility, there were plenty of differently abled folk at my precinct-- but--- you should always do better.)

7. Okay, reporting. NO MORE APPS EVER. No more online bullshit. Calculate the resuts on site, announce them on site. Send the documentation to county party HQs and then confirm results and send them to the state party. There should never have been an app and there should never have just ONE phone number to call results in too. You might need more bodies to make it happen, but decentralizing the reporting process also makes you less vulnerable to online shenanigans. Combine that with rolling start times throughout the day and it should make reporting easier as well. With more data to report (a good thing) you get more time to do it in.

8. If the reporting process is decentralized and spread out throughout the day, I'm reasonable okay with the parties still running their respective caucuses. There might be something to the notion of having either the Secretary of State's Office or the State Auditor's Office check the math just to be sure. In the case of a recanvass request or if the margins are too close to call, it definitely should be done by one of those two entities.

9. Let's talk logistics for a second: your mileage will vary depending on the precinct, but we were sharing a decently large high school with one other precinct. Everyone was funnelled in one door (which this time around, wasn't entirely necessary. The weather was good enough each precinct could have had their own entrances, but January-February isn't always so kind. Another argument for Saturday Caucuses! So I could see the reasoning behind getting everyone into the building--  once inside, the registration/check in table was in the worst bottle neck possible for the building, which slowed everything down. Even if you couldn't get access to classrooms, I would have split up registration by floor- A-K to First Floor, L-Q to second and R-Z to third floor. (Or however you want to split it up.) Utilizing the full space would have helped with crowd control so much-- but again, you've gotta have bodies /volunteers for that. (And honestly, once the spawn get older, I wouldn't mind being a poll worker or helping wrangle voters at caucuses.)

I'm very much an 'always be improving' guy and I honestly enjoy caucusing. Set it up right and it rewards people who show up and I'm all about that. There's something about getting together with your community and doing a little caucusing that I enjoyed the heck out of. Do I think their days are numbered? Perhaps. I think there's gonna a pretty decent push to take it away from Iowa-- but four years is a long time and there's quite the gravy train built up for the political world here. If I believe in anything, it's the staying power and institutional momentum of money. It's almost impossible to dislodge.

But we'll see what the future holds-- but if our days of caucuses are numbered (and I hope they aren't, whatever they do to the batting order), then let's jump ever so slightly sideways into the fun world of ranked choice voting. It's really the only logical landing place if we're gonna do something else.


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