It appears internet voting is under consideration for Iowa Democrats seeking a way to get more voters involved in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. The Iowa Democratic Party is seeking new ways to get voters more actively involved. The idea was introduced by Iowa Democrats Chairman Scott Brennan, who raised the idea on Friday at a meeting at the Democratic National Committee. In 2008, Democrats did write a rule granting states the option to use internet voting, but a spokesman said no such voting occurred, to the DNC’s knowledge. Internet voting is a controversial idea because of the potential for hacking and fraud as well as technological issues.
Iowa Democrats are mulling a slate of ways to boost participation in their next presidential caucuses, including permitting Internet voting, a controversial method that would mark the first time in history the web is utilized to cast an official ballot preference for president.
Hawkeye State Democrats are in the midst of surveying how to most effectively expand access to those who would like to participate in the unique caucus process, but cannot due to residency or military service overseas or age or physical restrictions that keep them in hospitals and nursing homes. It could also enfranchise participation among blue-collar workers who have shifts during the evening hours when caucuses are held.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan floated the loose proposal during Friday’s Democratic National Committee rules meeting at a hotel near Capitol Hill in Washington. He said the state party has conducted hundreds of informal conversations and 50 formal interviews on the topic and will next attempt to measure wider appetite for such a significant change and study how to put it to work in practice. One option: Creating an additional at-large precinct for all of those who can’t show up in person.
“Everything’s on the table,” said Brennan.
Traditionally, caucuses are multiple hour affairs conducted in churches, schools and homes where neighbors make a public case for their candidate of choice and try to persuade others to join their camp. Allowing those to participate without having to show up in person could change the spirit of a caucus, which is a more collaborative, interactive and public process than a primary, in which voters simply cast private ballots.
The DNC first allowed the Internet as a method of voting in 2008, but there’s no knowledge of a state using the option, according to a party spokeswoman.
A co-chair of the committee noted that the DNC would likely need to amend the existing rule to permit caucus states to exercise the Internet option. Currently the existing rule only applies to party-run state primaries.
“I didn’t even know the damn thing was there,” remarked DNC committeeman Harold Ickes about the Internet option. The remark prompted laughter in the ballroom, but the implications of online voting would be serious.