Iowa Democratic Party to explore 'alternatives' after DNC opposes virtual caucuses

Iowa Democratic Party to explore 'alternatives' after DNC opposes virtual caucuses
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The Iowa Democratic Party announced Friday it will explore alternative formats for the state’s all-important 2020 caucus amid reports that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) intends to scrap plans to hold the nominating contest virtually.

“Regardless of today’s news, we remain confident the 2020 Iowa Caucuses will be our best yet, and set the standard for years to come,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said in a statement. “While only five months remain before the caucuses, we will explore what alternatives may exist to securely increase accessibility from previous years given the time allowed.”

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Iowa Democrats have been seeking ways to increase participation in the caucuses, and the virtual caucuses had been seen as one alternative,.

But multiple reports emerged Friday that the DNC’s leadership opposed the plan to hold the caucus virtually over security concerns.

Two sources told the Des Moines Register that the committee held a meeting last week where members expressed concerns about election security and the possibility of hacking.

The original plan by the state party involved allowing some voters to cast their ballots over the phone in the February caucuses instead of going to neighborhood meetings in an attempt to increase participation. Voters who planned to take advantage of the option would have to register online in advance and would have to use a PIN number and multifactor authentication to confirm their identities.

The Iowa Democratic Party acknowledged that with the DNC’s opposition, it could not move forward with its plan. However, it maintained it was committed to finding ways to expand the caucuses’ accessibility. 

“We’re dedicated to expanding accessibility throughout the process so that no Iowan faces a barrier at their caucus. We are confident that this will be resolved in the coming weeks,” Price said.

“As Chair of the Party is it my job to protect our voters, protect our party, and to protect the integrity of our first in the nation caucuses. We are obviously disappointed by this outcome, and we continue to have confidence in the abilities of our vendors, but if the DNC does not believe the virtual caucus can be secure, then we cannot go forward.”

A similar plan was also being weighed in Nevada. 

Concerns within the DNC over cybersecurity have spiked since 2016, when Russian operatives hacked its servers and leaked embarrassing internal emails.