2020 Presenting big changes and challenges heading into caucus night

Nation and World News

DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO-TV) — With less than one week until the Iowa caucuses, the Polk County Democrats 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’s 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 population in big ways since the last census in 2010.  Recently, Precinct 62 near Des Moines’ south of Grand area had to be moved to Drake University’s Knapp Center.  Downs said, “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.”

Precinct 59 no longer has enough space at the Iowa Events Center and will move to Des Moines University’s Olsen Center.  Precinct 61 is expecting a crowd above fire code at Greenwood Elementary, so they’ll switch to Merrill Middle School that has been vacated by Precinct 62’s venue switch.

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

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