DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan knows people are talking about what he may try to do to the caucuses. He also knows some think changes are coming because of Hillary Clinton.
Clinton finished a disappointing third in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In her speech in Des Moines that night, Clinton mentioned the people who couldn’t take part in the process. Some Iowans took that as a shot to its revered caucuses. Since then, Democrats have wondered how to include some of those people who can’t show up to caucus because of work, family or military obligations.
Some Democrats have also wondered about 2016 turnout, if Clinton turns out to be the party’s only well-known caucus contender.
Brennan is working on possible solutions to increase caucus turnout, along with members of the party’s state central committee. Expect “minor changes,” he said. “We’re not going to blow up the process,” Brennan added to try to reassure those who worry the caucuses could undergo a dramatic new look in 2016.
No truth to the rumors absentee, on-line or Saturday voting could be options, Brennan said. “It’s a caucus. It’s a conversation,” he said.
Absentee voting doesn’t fit that setup, he argued. And there are too many concerns with the reliability and accuracy of the needed technology to make on-line voting, Brennan believes. He said the party tried a Saturday caucus, although in a non-presidential year, and that actually hurt turnout.
However, he added one possibility for a change. Brennan said on-site child care could help those whose family obligations would have otherwise stopped them from participating. “One of the simpler things we could propose,” Brennan said of the idea.