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Iowa Shouldn’t Go First, And The Caucuses Shouldn’t Exist — Reforms Should Be Embraced By Democrats (Opinion)

In light of the debacle of Monday night’s Iowa Caucus, where results are still not being released due to what is being described as a major technical glitch, it is perhaps not such a brave thing to come out in favor of ditching the process altogether.

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Many on social media are questioning why such a caucus system exists in the first place. It’s an arduous, long process that is prone to mistakes from human error to begin with. It’s also a system that disenfranchises entire groups of people, including people with disabilities as well as parents with children, who have difficulties standing and moving about in confined spaces with kids who will get bored easily.

Then there’s the issue of having Iowa go first at all. The state is not highly-representative of the entirety of the nation, particularly when it comes to racial makeup of Iowa caucus-goers versus the rest of the country as a whole.

The difficulties seen in Iowa on Monday evening put into question the entire nominating process. Changes need to happen, that’s a given — but what sort of changes should be seen?

For starters, instead of the same four states going first all the time, there should be a rotating roster of 3-5 states holding their primary races first, with 3-5 more states holding additional primaries every week or two for the remainder of the nominating season. This will produce two good outcomes: first, it will ensure that different states have a chance to influence the outcome; and second, it will shorten the nomination process altogether.

Think about it: if five states held primaries every week, the primary election season would be done in less than three months. Most Americans, I think, would be happy with that shortened process.

With Iowa in particular, an instant voter runoff, or “ranked-choice” voting should replace the caucus system, allowing voters to pick their top candidate but also rank who they would vote for if their top choice came in last. This ensures that voters are still allowed to pick who they like, but also guarantees that the top vote-getter in the race receives a majority (instead of a plurality) endorsement from all voters involved.

This idea in particular should be adopted not just in Iowa but across the nation as well. A few states have already implemented ranked-choice voting for their primary elections, and the idea could serve as proof that the reform deserves to be put in place for general elections, too.

The Iowa Caucus was a huge embarrassment for Democrats this year, one that’s being used by the president and other Republicans as a talking point against the eventual nominee set to run against Trump. There’s no reason why the caucus system should stay in place — and truthfully, the entire nomination process itself is in need of a big overhaul.