How the Iowa Caucuses Work (A Bernie organizer explains)

December 14, 2019

In Blog News

Here’s how the caucuses work

1. You show up at your caucus location based on precinct at 6:30 pm for registration. If you’re an independent, you can register as a democrat at the night of the caucus.
2. Doors close at 7:00 pm sharp. Show up at 7:01, and you won’t be able to caucus
3. Because the party runs caucuses, and not election officials, a chair and secretary that’s appointed by the party calls the caucus to order
4. The chair counts how many people are attending and calculates the “viability threshold.” For a 4 delegate precinct, the viability is always 15 % x [number of attendees]. For a 2 delegate precinct, the viability is always 25% x [number of attendees.] For a 3 delegate precinct, the viability is always 1/6th of the [number of attendees]. So if you live in a 4 delegate precinct, and there are 100 people attending the caucus, you need at least 15 supporters to be a “viable candidate.” If you live in a 2 delegate precinct and there are 50 attendees, you need at least 13 supporters to be a “viable candidate.” (50 times .25, rounded up) (Calculating viability is always rounded up).
5. Each campaign allows a “precinct captain” to give a 1-minute speech on why their candidate is the best
6. People gather to their location (Ex: Bernie folks gather in one corner, Warren folks gather in the other corner of the room, etc.) and the first count starts
7. The chair calculates to check to see if all the candidates are “viable.” So if we are back using the example of a 4 delegate precinct with 100 people attending, each candidate needs at least 15 supporters. If Andrew Yang or Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t get at least 15 people there, they are not viable.
8. Realignment starts. So supporters of Yang and Gabbard, because their candidate didn’t reach the viability threshold and no longer viable, they can move to another viable candidate. However, people already in a viable group from the first count cannot realign.
9. The second count starts after the supporters of non-viable candidates realign to another candidate.
10. the chair calculates to see if the viable candidates are eligible to receive a delegate. The formula is [number of people in a preference group] x [number of delegates allocated to that precinct] / [total number of caucus attendees]. So if there are 50 Bernie supporters in 4 delegate precinct, and there are 100 attendees, Bernie wins 2 delegates. (50 times 4, divided by 100).
11. Delegates are selected. So back to the example of the 4 delegate precinct: Bernie supporters, amongst themselves, nominate 2 delegates to represent them.