New Iowans learn rules ahead of Feb. 3 caucus

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Iowa caucus is only three weeks away and first-time caucusers spent Wednesday night learning the rules.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have different rules on how they caucus. The Republican Party uses an anonymous vote to select their candidate. Caucusers for the Democratic Party separate into the candidate of their choice. If their first candidate doesn't receive enough support in the room, they must move to another candidate.

"It's kind of exciting to be a part of. And also, it just seems like a really unique way of doing this. I'm used to primary voting. So it seemed very complicated compared to that," Libby Honts, a first-time caucuser, said.

For residents who are newer to Iowa, and have never experienced the caucus before, the process may seem overwhelming.

"You listen to it on the news and stuff, but the actual process I had no idea or paid a whole lot of attention because it was Iowa and not Illinois," Karen Payne, who moved from Illinois to Iowa with her husband and is now experiencing the caucus for the first time, said.

Wednesday's training gave the attendees the chance to participate in a mock-caucus for both parties. It was a chance to learn the rules and further understand exactly what to expect on caucus night.

"It's starting to clear up in my head a little bit. I'm really looking forward to it. I think this election is so important that we figured we really needed to get involved. So this is the first step," Karen Payne said.

The Democratic Party's rules for selecting their nominee in Iowa is more complicated than the Republican Party's process.

"I get the idea that they want you to meet as a group and talk about the candidates and the issues, which is kind of a neat idea, but it is definitely way more complicated than just picking someone and voting," Hontz said.

But for most people learning about how to caucus, the significance of being a part of it is clear.

"It has such a reputation. Everybody looks to Iowa. Because we're new here it's just something that we really wanted to be a part of," Payne said.

The winner of the Democratic Party's caucus might experience a national boost as they head to New Hampshire to caucus only one week later, but their win in Iowa doesn't mean they are set to win the nomination for the ticket. In 2016, Ted Cruz won the Republican Iowa caucus, but President Trump ended up winning the party's nomination.

The Iowa caucus is Feb. 3. Same-day registration is available.

More information:
Republican Party caucus rules.
Democratic Party caucus rules.