The Iowa Caucuses should be replaced with a normal primary system


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The Iowa Democratic caucuses this week were marred by counting errors and delays spanning several days. Here is why Iowa's traditional caucus system should be replaced with a normal primary contest.

The Iowa Democratic Caucus system should be replaced with a normal primary in order to simplify the process and prevent errors.

The Iowa Democratic Caucus, which took place on Monday, is the first contest of the presidential nomination process. The way it is conducted differs from the majority of the contests in the presidential nomination process. 

In the Democratic Caucus, voters stand in different parts of a room based on who they are voting for. If a candidate receives less than 15 percent of the votes at that precinct, then the people who caucused for them have to caucus for a candidate who passed the 15 percent threshold. The rest of the caucus-goers are not allowed to switch to other candidates, and no new Iowans are allowed to enter the proceedings once the first round of caucusing has been completed.

After votes are tallied, candidates are given delegates based on the percentage of votes they each received. There were 41 national delegates up for grabs this year for Democratic candidates in Iowa.

This caucus system is complex and difficult to understand, and this year, the Iowa Democratic Party had a great deal of trouble counting the votes.

Due to bugs in a new app created by Shadow Inc., which was intended to make the process more efficient for counties to tally their numbers, there were inconsistencies and delays in the reporting of the results. According to NBC, there were flaws in how the app reported the data. It was also difficult for caucus chairs to use because it required them to download a separate application.

The Iowa Democratic Party had to manually tally the results, delaying them until 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Nearly 24 hours after caucus-goers began the process, only 62 percent of the county precincts were reporting. 

Finally, about 99% of the results were released on Thursday night. The results showed 11 delegates for the top two candidates, Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Ind.) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in third place with 5 delegates, while Former Vice President Joe Biden received 2 delegates and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) received 1 delegate. The delegate count is still not yet complete and will be updated as the final results trickle in.

The Iowa Democratic Party also released other numbers in addition to the delegate count. Those numbers included the number of votes each candidate received in each county. From that information, NBC and the New York Times discovered errors in the results given after the delay. Since then, Tom Perez, the national Democratic National Committee’s chairman, said that the party should conduct a recanvass of a few select counties that experienced errors or counting irregularities.

This delay caused chaos among the candidates, voters and the whole country. Americans should be able to have faith that their electoral process is authentic. Following the accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Americans are now, more than ever, skeptical of the election process and our democracy.

While I am happy with the results of the Iowa Democratic Caucus, the process was disorganized and confusing for everyone involved, including the caucus-goers and the candidates themselves.

If Iowa had chosen to hold a normal primary instead, like nearly all of the other contests in the primaries, the process would have been much simpler, and they would have avoided the embarrassing errors that took place this past week in the caucuses.