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'We like to say there's no off-year': Iowa political leaders emphasize the importance of midterm caucuses

The state's Democratic and Republican parties are both holding caucuses at 7 p.m. Monday.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Ahead of the midterm elections, party leaders from both sides say the lack of presidential candidates doesn't make the state's 2022 caucuses any less important.

"A lot of people actually don't know that you caucus in midterms, but this is an opportunity to possibly meet some of the candidates now running for the state offices and House districts," said Gloria Mazza, chair of the Polk County Republican Party.

Rep. Ross Wilburn, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, called caucus-goers the backbone of the party.

"People come together from all different backgrounds to fight for shared values and discuss issues that are important to our communities," Wilburn said.

Caucuses will be held Monday evening throughout the state. For Democrats, some counties are allowing virtual caucuses, but for Republicans all caucuses will be held in-person. In-person locations could include schools, churches or community centers.

"What I've been doing the past 7 days is working with our leaders who want to go virtual and building a process that we think will work for them," said Judy Downs, executive director of the Polk County Democrats. "It is a new and experimental process, but this is a good year to try it out."

You can find caucus sites here for Republicans and here for Democrats.

RELATED: National Democrats reconsider Iowa's status as first state for caucuses

Officials told Local 5 decisions made at the caucuses help set a party's direction moving forward. That's why spreading the word and getting Iowans to come out is so important.

"We like to say there's no off year," Downs said. "There's elections every year, whether there are local elections or federal elections, it's always election season in Polk County. So if you want to get involved, the best time to get involved is when it's not so busy."

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