No matter the future for Iowa Caucuses, ACLU wants improvements

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s prominent role in the presidential nominating process is now being questioned after last week’s delays and technical issues.

The American Civil Liberties Union says no matter what happens in the future, more Iowans need access to the process.

Iowa has long held one of the most closely watched events in the election cycle with its caucuses, as the first presidential votes taken every four years.

But with this year’s delayed results, those who want Iowa to switch to a primary election — and later on the calendar — amplified their calls.

Veronica Fowler, communications director of the ACLU of Iowa, says her organization would at least like to see more improvements for people who can’t take part.

“We have concerns about the current format because it’s very difficult for a wide variety of marginalized people, and many others, to actually participate,” she states.

Fowler says there are access issues for people with disabilities, older people who can’t travel, and for anyone who works in the evening.

The Iowa Democratic Party says it did take steps this year to make the event easier for people with disabilities, including an online form for voters to make accommodation requests.

In addition to improving the caucus process, the ACLU wants the state will expand voting rights to convicted felons.

Iowa is the last state to have a complete ban on former felons being able to vote. Fowler says that needs to change.

“That could be something like stealing an expensive video game or an expensive bicycle,” she points out. “And you have a felony conviction and you can’t vote for the rest of your life.”

The ACLU is hopeful that a bill in the Iowa Senate will lift the ban.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is supportive of the idea, but says she’d rather have it done by amending the state Constitution.