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Frequently Asked Questions


Iowa Democratic Party Precinct Caucus Fact Sheet

Who Can Attend a Precinct Caucus?

  • Precinct caucuses are open meetings. Any one can attend and observe, but only registered Democrats (or 17 year olds who will be 18 by 11/4/2008) can participate.
  • Young people who will not be 18 by November are encouraged to attend as Youth Attenders. They can not vote at the caucus. They are strictly there to observe.

Who Can Participate?

  • All participants must be Democrats registered to vote in the precinct. A list of previous caucus attendees and active Democrats will be available at the caucuses. If you are not on the list, you will be asked to register as a Democrat that night.
  • Seventeen-year-olds, who will be 18 by the general election on November 4, 2008, will be allowed to fully participate. If they will be 18 within six months of the caucus date, they will be required to fill out a voter registration card and register as a Democrat.

What Is The Timing For The Caucus?

  • The caucus is called to order by the temporary chair at 6:30 PM
  • The caucus can not divide into preference groups before 7:00 PM.
  • To be counted in a preference group, you must be there at the time the caucus divides. If you arrive after the count is taken, you will not be counted, although you can still participate.

How Is Viability Determined?

  • This depends on the number of delegates to be elected in that precinct.
    • If one delegate is to be elected, the caucus as a whole elects the delegate.
    • If two delegates are to be elected, preference groups must contain at least 25% of the caucus attendees in order to be viable.
    • If three delegates are to be elected, the total caucus attendees are divided by six (6) to determine viability. (For example: 120 caucus attendees ÷ 6 =20 people to be viable.)
    • If four or more delegates are to be elected, preference groups must contain at least 15% of the caucus attendees in order to be viable.
  • Any preference group that is not viable must be given time to realign with preference groups that are viable or with another preference group that is also not viable.
  • You can not have more preference groups than the number of delegates to be elected. If this happens, the smallest preference groups must be given an opportunity to realign.

How Are Delegates Elected?

  • Once preference groups are viable, the caucus chair will use the following formula to allocate the number of delegates for each preference group.

[Number of members in group X total number of delegates] ÷ total number of eligible caucus attenders = number of delegates

Example: 100 in group X 6 delegates = 600
600 ÷ 200 caucus attenders = 3 delegates

Example: 75 in group X 4 delegates = 300
300 ÷ 125 caucus attenders = 4.16
Round down to 4 delegates

• Once each preference group knows how many delegates they can elect, they do so within their preference group.

• Groups electing more than one delegate must try, to the extent possible, to elect equal numbers of men and women delegates.

• The number of alternate delegates that may be elected is not limited. Alternate delegates are also elected within preference groups.

• It is possible to nominate and elect someone who is not present at the caucus.

• Once preference groups elect all the delegates, the caucus comes back together as one group and must ratify the slate of delegates and alternates.

Resolution Discussion

  • Prior to and/or after delegate selection, the precinct attendees will discuss resolutions. Some precincts discuss and vote on each and every resolution. Other precincts discuss only those resolutions that are controversial. In other precincts, it is decided to simply send all resolutions on to the county platform committee and let them decide which ones should be included in the proposed county platform.
  • It is best to bring at least a few typed copies of your proposed resolution to the caucus with you. If it is lengthy and you believe that it may be controversial, you may want to make enough copies so that all the attendees can actually read the resolution before it is debated.
  • Resolutions must be approved by a majority of attendees.

Election of Precinct Committee People and Convention Committee Members

  • The entire caucus (not in preference groups) will elect these individuals.
  • Each precinct elects two members to serve a two-year term on the county central committee. (In a few counties, more than two members may be elected.)
  • Each precinct elects two individuals to serve on the county convention platform committee, which will meet several times to develop a proposed platform to be voted on at the county convention in March. (In a few counties, more than two members may be elected.)
  • Each precinct elects two individuals to serve on the county convention committee on committees. These individuals will then serve on the rules, credentials or arrangement committees. (In a few counties, more than two members may be elected.)
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