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  • Writer's pictureMattie Mills

Visiting Your Drake Caucus Location

Around two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit your Caucus location if you are a member of the Des Moines 31 precinct (a.k.a. if you live in certain parts of the Drake neighborhood). It was eye-opening to visit the location and hear all of the nitty-gritty details that go into making sure the Caucuses can succeed this January 15th. Organizing a caucus event is no small feat. It requires a certain amount of logistics, coordination, and community involvement. In this blog post, I will take you behind the scenes of the Iowa Caucuses, offering a glimpse into how these events come together. 

The Caucus location for the Des Moines 31 Precinct is the Franklin Avenue Library, located at 5000 Franklin Avenue. Check out the website here! It is an absolutely stunning location with such a kind manager. 

When a few of my classmates and I went to check out the location ahead of time, we could walk through and hear all about the logistics of how setting up a caucus would look. From what doors will be unlocked on the day of to how the chairs should be set up to how the sound system works, there are an infinite number of little pieces that all have to come together to make a caucus event a success. These little pieces require three main groups to pull together a caucus event: organizers, volunteers, and attendees. 

The backbone of any Caucus lies in the hands of its organizers. They face many challenges, from securing venues to managing outreach efforts within the community. Extended hours are invested to ensure coordination and that each caucus location can fit an adequate number of people. For example, in 2016 and 2020, Republican organizers planned their caucus locations on the basis that 35% of registered Republican voters in each precinct would end up showing up. They ran out of ballots for people in those years, so now they pick Caucus locations based on the idea that 45% of registered voters in each precinct will appear. Organizers must be adaptable, and this flexibility allows the Parties to hold Caucuses successfully every four years. 

Volunteers also play a crucial role in the success of Caucus events. Whether assisting with voter registration, sign-in at the door, or serving as a precinct captain in charge of running the Caucuses, they are necessary to make sure that the Caucuses flow and can encourage the most significant number of voters to participate in the democratic process actively. Volunteers are usually those more experienced in politics (but only sometimes- many college students have been known to help out!) and get trained to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Lastly, a caucus event is nothing without attendees. Of course, to have a successful Caucus, you have to have voters put in their input. There are challenges with ensuring that each Caucus location ensures inclusivity and accessibility. Caucus events are unique because they are not just about politics; they also serve as community gatherings. A successful caucus will engage with the local community leading up to the event and foster a sense of community while allowing everyone to participate in the Democratic process actively. 

Organizing a caucus event is a complex, multifaceted endeavor that requires dedication and passion. These behind-the-scenes insights showcase the effort necessary to make the Caucuses a unique and influential aspect of American politics. 


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