University to host mock caucus

ELIZABETH KELSEY, News Editor

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As residents of the first state in the nation to host presidential caucuses, Iowa college students play an important role in the political process, according to the UNI political science faculty.

“It is important to recognize caucuses are more than just signaling support for a candidate; they are a key element in grassroots party governance. It is a civic responsibility we encourage our students to take seriously,” said Justin Holmes, associate professor of political science, in a university press release.

The political science department recognizes not only the importance of the upcoming Feb. 3 caucus, but also its potentially confusing nature. In light of this, the department has teamed up with the American Democracy Project and Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) to host a mock caucus event at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27. The event, which will be held in Maucker Union Ballrooms, will be a nonpartisan event designed to introduce students to the caucusing process for both political parties.

“The idea is to get students — both Democrats and Republicans — the knowledge and comfort and tools to be able to walk into the caucus and participate and know what’s going to happen,” said Scott Peters, head of the political science department, in an article from the Gazette.

Participants will be led through the processes that both parties use to conduct their caucuses and to tabulate and report results, since the process differs at Democratic and Republican caucuses. Students will also learn how to find their caucus site and how they can same-day register (or change their party registration).

The mock event will also demonstrate the lesser-known functions of the caucuses, including choosing delegates to the county convention and developing party platforms.

The event is open to students and the Cedar Valley community, and food and drinks will be provided.

To encourage UNI students to participate in both the mock caucus and the “real thing” on Feb. 3, UNI will be promoting a #PanthersCaucus social media awareness campaign similar to the #PanthersVote initiative used in the 2018 midterm elections. That initiative contributed to UNI’s 46.2 percent voter turnout rate in the 2018 midterm elections, the highest among Iowa’s public universities.

As quoted in the Gazette, Peters said his departmen’s goal is that the mock event bolsters student political political participation even futher.

“We have an engaged campus and students, who take their civic responsibility seriously,” he told the Gazette.