OPINION: The Iowa Caucus was exhausting for everyone

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Candice Mayfield
CONTRIBUTOR 

The 2020 Iowa Caucus put a toll on not only the state but on the whole nation. Graphic by Mars Nevada/The Gateway

What do the Iowa caucus results and Carmen Sandiego have in common? Nobody had a clue where in the world they were.

The Iowa Caucus is the first in the nation to show support and provide results for their candidates. The results set the tone for their party’s national conventions and the presidential election.

Why Iowa? The thought process behind this is if average middle-class Iowans approve of a candidate, then they have likely won the support of other constituents across the nation. Iowa is considered to be one of the most important caucuses in the presidential election process and can help predict how the election will go. But, if it’s anything like last Monday, Feb. 3, I’m not sure I want the rest of the election to go like that. Not because of the results, but because of the lack of results.

Being an Iowa resident myself, I did my civic duty and caucused in precinct 13. This was my second caucus and in comparison to my first, I left with more questions than answers, like many other attendees.

I’m a registered independent voter. In the 2016 election, I attended as a Republican voter and this year as a Democrat, both being equivalent to a three-ring circus. The differences between the two were bigger than I thought. The main differences I saw were the time it took to complete the process and the candidate selection process.

The time comparison was vastly different. I spent an hour at the GOP caucus, only because I stayed after to chit-chat with neighbors. This year I spent two and a half hours there, with no chit-chat keeping me after because there was enough time during the process for me to have full-blown conversations. I planned on about an hour for the event, an hour and a half max. I missed dinner plans and, more importantly, quality time with my dog.

By now you’ve heard the news of the horrid Iowa caucus app crisis that was developed by a company named Shadow. The app was meant to speed up and modernize the process, leaving residents, and non-residents alike, frustrated. It didn’t just delay the results but delayed individual precincts, causing an overall political mess.

“The night of the caucus went smoothly. As far as the delay in the caucus results, I would much rather our state look into problems with reporting the right way and hold results until they are sure they are correct, rather than race to get inaccurate results for the anxious media,” said Wendy Punteney, a caucus official for precinct 16 and first-time caucus attendee.

The candidate selection process was odd to me solely because I wasn’t aware that this is already a primary difference between the two parties and their caucuses.

The GOP’s process is simple: I showed up in a small-scale room in my then-current high school, and we sat dispersed in no specific grouping. Next, we shared thoughts on candidates with an open platform set up and then moved to our candidates’ designated area and held two rounds of votes. We wrapped up with tallying up the votes, declaring our precinct results.

The Democrat’s process was overwhelming to me. I showed up at my old rival high school’s commons where I sat in my candidates’ designated area with my team captain. The caucus started 20 minutes late due to people still registering and checking-in. After, we put in our ballot with our first-round pick. Next, they counted the ballots and then counted them again. A ballot was submitted by an unregistered constituent which created another delay in our precinct.

Amy Klobuchar fell short of the precinct’s 15% threshold and remained the only nonviable candidate after the second round. The results of the candidate delegates were then finalized and voting for delegates began. Questions such as “Delegates? Aren’t these elected officials beforehand? Why did this lady ask me to be one and why did I say yes?” left the caucus with me.

Precincts have different processes to select delegates, or at least from what I noticed. Precinct 2 in Carter Lake, Iowa, used a coin toss on the decision to give Andrew Yang an extra delegate.

“We had the Super Bowl the day before the caucus and it showed how to fairly toss a coin without interference. The Iowa Democratic Party made a serious mistake and I support the calls from the DNC asking to perform a formal recount of all 1,756 precincts,” said Jacob Hemmerich, a constituent from precinct 2.

I concluded that my civic duty of attending the Iowa Caucus this year was not only exhausting for me but for the whole country to watch and continue to see unravel.

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