Parties to Keep Overseas Military From Caucus Participation

Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 01:17 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Republicans and Democrats are resisting calls to make changes to the rules governing participation in Iowa's caucuses, and plan to keep preventing military voters who are serving overseas to participate in the contests, Time magazine reported.

Party caucuses, a cornerstone of the presidential election primary calendar, enable each major party to determine their nominee for president through a gathering of meetings and onsite voting.

They differ from a primary election in that they require the party's registered voters to be present in person at sites for hours to decide the state's party nominees.

The GOP is meeting in Chicago this week to finalize its rules for the 2016 presidential election and Democrats are meeting later this month in Atlanta. Both parties have said they are averse to making changes to their current rules.

"Iowans did not want us to take any steps that would change what our caucuses are at their core — neighborhood gatherings of concerned and interested Iowans who want a say in the future of our country," Iowa Democratic Chair Scott Brennan said, according to Time.
Past attempts in the Republican Party to change the rules to enable military voters to participate remotely have also been rejected.

"We need to not lose the nature of the caucuses," said Iowa's GOP Gov. Terry Branstad who added that absentee ballots for military voters would in effect change the caucus to a primary.

On Friday, however, Brennan announced that while the Democratic Party would not pursue absentee ballots, it would look at pushing for a state law that would require employers to make provisions for employees to have time off on caucus day to participate.

Democrats are also considering options for a tele-caucuses for military voters overseas, Time reported.

Republicans have indicated they will be considering the proposals that Democrats develop.

The number of servicemen affected from Iowa is unknown. Far fewer people vote in primary elections than in general elections, but in the 2012 general election, 4,400 Iowans voted from outside the United States, which included those serving in the military overseas.

Beyond Iowa, the caucuses continue to be a fixture in the presidential nominating process in a number of states, including Nevada, which is fourth in line among in the primary calendar.

Other states with caucuses or conventions also exclude military voters due to their format, even though a 2009 law requires that states provide military voters and Americans living abroad with absentee ballots for primary voting.

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