Iowa to Caucus on Saturday

From the Wall Street Journal,

The Democratic and Republican Parties of Iowa have agreed to a date for the 2010 caucuses–and for the first time they will be held on a Saturday afternoon, the Des Moines Register reports.

While Iowa’s midterm election year caucuses garner little national interest, the Register notes that “it will serve as a great test” ahead of the 2012 presidential caucuses.

The date is set for Jan. 23, 2010, and may alleviate criticism that holding caucuses on a week-day limits attendance for the working class and elderly, among others.

To be honest, I don’t know how necessary a move like this is for a caucus, though I applaud Iowa the effort nonetheless. Primaries and caucuses are already limited to the most politically active, even in presidential races. Coupled with the arduous process of voting in caucuses (especially so if you’re a registered Democrat), I think it’s fair to presume that the type of person that cares enough to vote in a caucus would find a way to leave work early once every two years. And no matter which day you put it on, caucuses are still going to favor the candidates with the most organized voters.

The bigger concern if you’re a voting rights advocate is, of course, national elections. In that respect, what I’d like to see is moving, say, the New Hampshire primary to a weekend. Primaries more closely resemble a presidential election in format, so a New Hampshire test run would tell us a lot more about how the day of the week affects voter behavior.

All this would be rendered moot — as would wacky side effects like making it hard for Jews to vote by using the Sabbath — if the U.S. government would just institute a national voting holiday for presidential and mid-term elections. It’d be a helluva lot more functional in the year 2009 than, say, Labor Day.

You won’t see me linger too long atop my soapbox on this one, as I don’t care all that much whether the apathetic have an easy route to the polls, but it’s a bit baffling that, in the name of Democracy, something as obvious as National Voting Day hasn’t taken root in the same country where Ron Paul can stir up a fanatical following by fashioning himself the Forgotten Framer of the Constitution.


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About the Author

Brian Eason is a University of Missouri graduate with bachelor degrees in Journalism and Political Science. He has covered Congressional elections and local government for the Columbia Missourian and worked as a general assignment reporter for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Brian has also had articles published in Roll Call.

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