DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Democrats have hit another snag in their new caucus plan.
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed HF 716 into law on Thursday, which requires in-person participation at all caucuses.
Previously, Iowa Democrats proposed a caucus format that allowed for a vote-by-mail caucus process. The new law makes that plan illegal.
“For many years, Iowa Democrats have worked in good faith with the Republicans to preserve our caucuses," said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart in a press release. "This legislation ends decades of bipartisanship, and now Kim Reynolds has signed off on this attempt to meddle in Democratic party business.”
Prior to the bill's passage, Iowa Republicans argued that providing alternatives to in-person caucusing creates a gray area. A vote-by-mail option could functionally turn the caucus into a primary – allowing New Hampshire to skip in front of Iowa.
"Hopefully, today's bill signing by the governor will mark an end to the Iowa Democrats pushing and then doubling down on an ill-advised, primary-in-all-but-name caucus proposal," said Jeff Kauffman, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, in a press release. "The fate of middle Americans having a voice in selecting our next president depends on it."
Iowa Democrats had hoped the vote-by-mail option could help make the caucuses more accessible.
“Iowa Democrats are committed to moving forward with the most inclusive caucus process in Iowa's history no matter what," Hart said in the release. "We will do what's good for Democrats, what's good for Iowa, and what's good for democracy.”