2020 presenting big changes and challenges heading into caucus night


DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO-TV) – With less than one week until the caucuses, Democrats in Polk County, Iowa are busy tying up loose ends.

“It’s a little bit of organized chaos right now at Polk County Democratic headquarters with one week left,” said Executive Director Judy Downs.

The 2020 Iowa Caucus season has been a unique monster. 

“There are a few things that go into making this year hard because Polk County is growing and more folks are interested in the process. And because we have a dozen candidates, we’ve had to move to larger sites,” Downs said.

That growth has changed the population in big ways since the last census in 2010. That’s caused some precincts to even have to be moved.

“Those folks usually have always caucuses at Merrill Middle School. This year they are going to be at the Knapp Center because we are expecting almost 1,100 people at that one particular caucus,” Downs said.

One precinct no longer has enough space at the Iowa Events Center and will move to Des Moines University’s Olsen Center. Another is expecting a crowd above fire code at Greenwood Elementary, so they’ll switch to Merrill Middle School.

Polk County is home to 177 caucus sites.  Caucus chairs have begun arriving for their boxes of information. 

“This is all the materials required to run a safe and successful caucus,” Downs said. 

They are being prepped on the changes to help make sure Iowa stays first in the nation. 

“We are going over everything with them just to make sure they are up to date on all the changes to the rules,” said Downs.

New this year in those boxes are stickers for reporters and observers so they do not get counted on caucus night. Also new are presidential preference cards, which leave a paper trail in case of a possible recount. Countless hours of volunteer work are now in the home stretch. 

“It’s almost like I’m a NASCAR coach or manager and once that race starts, there is not much I can do,” Downs said.

Organizers are hoping that the planning, prepping and political process makes the nation proud of Iowa. 

“At a certain point, I just have to let it go and let God,” said Downs.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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