There’s planting season, there’s harvest season, and every couple of years there’s election season. In the case of Iowa voters, this season is much longer every four years, as we carry forward the responsibility for hosting one of the most iconic U.S. political events—the Presidential Caucuses. To quote a t-shirt I saw over the holidays, “For some reason, you have to come here to become President.”
Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses have been occurring every four years since 1972. Since then, there have been 18 caucus winners between the two parties: 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans. Over half of those winners went on to secure their party's nomination.
Over the years, there have been changes to structure and process, and 2024 is no different. This year, Iowa Republicans will conduct their traditional in-person caucus process on January 15, while Iowa Democrats will be utilizing a new mail-in Presidential preference process.
Regardless of your political affiliation, participation is important, and we’ve assembled a step-by-step guide on how to navigate these upcoming events:
- Confirm Voter Registration: The Iowa Secretary of State's office manages voting registration records. Registration forms can be submitted online, by mail, or in person. You can also check the status, update, of your registration and find additional resources here.
- Verify Party Affiliation: Your voter registration must indicate your chosen political party, and that must match the process you wish you participate in. Deadline for party registrations is January 15 for Republicans (you can do it on-site at your caucus location), and February 19 for Democrats. Law prohibits participating in more than one political party’s caucuses in the same cycle.
- Be Informed: Visit the websites for each candidate to learn their positions on key issues that are important to you, or better yet, visit with them in-person as many are hosting townhall events across the state.
- Determine Where/When: Republican caucuses will be in-person and held at 7 p.m. on January 15. Democrat caucuses will be conducted via mail-in Presidential preference cards that are available to download online until February 19. Democrats will also be holding events at 7 p.m. on January 15 that will be focused on conducting party business. The location of your precinct caucus can be found on the websites of the Iowa Democratic Party or the Republican Party of Iowa.
- Participate: The Democrats Presidential preference card process will look very similar to our current absentee voting process, and take place entirely via mail. The Republicans caucus process will be in-person. Be sure to arrive early, bring a form of ID, and plan to allocate at least an hour or a few. Individuals give short speeches in support of their preferred candidate. You may choose to speak but are certainly not required to do so. Paper ballots are circulated (blind- meaning they are not attached back to any individual caucus goer), and you write your chosen candidate.
- Follow the Results: The results of the Republican caucuses will be made public throughout the night on January 15. The Democrat Presidential preference cards will be counted, and results announced on March 5 (also known as Super Tuesday).
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