DES MOINES, Iowa -- As of Friday, the Iowa caucuses are officially one month away. There are over 1,600 precincts this year and both parties are expecting thousands of voters to come out and caucus on February 3rd.
The caucuses are not run by the state but by the individual parties. To prepare for the night, each party recruits hundreds of volunteers to assist with planning. However, Republicans and Democrats say that’s never a problem with Iowans.
“We've been doing this now for a few decades and Iowans take it very seriously," Republican Party of Iowa, Communications Director, Aaron Britt said. “They get very excited about it and that's one thing that's really unique about Iowans is that they take this caucus process seriously and are usually more than willing to help out.”
For Republicans, there aren’t many major changes from past caucuses this year. They do expect a higher volume of people given there’s an incumbent Republican president. So they advise voters to arrive promptly at 7:00 p.m. which is when the caucus will begin.
For Democrats, their goal this year was to be more transparent and accessible. This year they've added early check-in for voters. The biggest change to the Democratic caucus this year is they will be providing satellite caucuses. This gives those who cannot physically be present, a chance to still caucus.
As for what voters can do, both parties suggest making sure you are registered to vote and taking advantage of the unique experience of frequently interacting with candidates.
“I encourage them to go out and see the presidential candidates. These next 31 days are going to be such a great opportunity to go and see democracy in action and have a chance to actually talk one on one with the candidates,” Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, Troy Price said.
There are some big differences in how Republicans and Democrats will caucus on February 3rd. Democrat participants separate into groups based on their support of a candidate. Then there is a verbal vote is taken to approve the number of delegates. Republican participants simply cast a vote of support.
Both parties said they might not agree on a lot but when it comes to the Iowa caucuses they are on the same page. This makes it easier to work together during the planning stages. Price said it’s one of the few places where bipartisanship still exists.
“This is protecting our first in the nation caucuses is something that is a bipartisan effort. Both they, they love the caucuses, we love the caucuses, and we work together to make sure that we are supporting one another in the process,” Price said.
The 2020 Iowa caucuses will be held on February 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. You can visit the Iowa Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Iowa websites to learn more about your nearest caucus and voter registration.