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Gordon Fischer on the caucuses


The Des Moines Business Record spoke with Gordon Fischer, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, about his expectations for the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses.

Q: How many Iowa Democrats participated in the last presidential caucuses, and how do you expect that number will compare with this year’s caucuses?

A: More than 60,000 Iowa Democrats participated in the 2000 caucuses. We hope that more than 100,000 will participate this year. We have the best precinct captain Iowa Democrats have ever seen. He is organizing and unifying the Democratic Party like never before. His name is George W. Bush. People have a lot of anger about George Bush wherever you go in Iowa. Second, we have some very able candidates and supporters that will get the word out. Third, I’ve been to about 40 county events over the last year since I’ve been selected chair. At many of the events, the crowds were much larger than expected, sometimes two or three times bigger than they were in the past. I chalk that up to extreme interest in the election.

Q: Who can participate in the caucuses?

A: The caucuses are actually a very open process, and people should not be intimidated. If you are not registered as a Democrat, you can register on caucus night. If you are a registered Republican or Independent, you can still participate if you’re willing to register as a Democrat. If you’re 17 and going to be 18 by election day, you can also participate.

Q: How many caucus locations are there across the state, and how can you find out where the closest location is? Does each county have at least one caucus?

A: There will be 1,993 precinct caucuses on Jan. 19. For your caucus location, you can go to www.caucus2004.org which lists all the precinct and caucus locations. Or contact your county auditor.   You must attend the caucus for the precinct in which you’re registered to vote. It’s almost bound to not be very far away from where you live.

Q: How will the precinct results be counted?

A: For the first time this year, all the precinct chairs will be given an 800 number with a PIN code and call into an electronic system that will allow them to enter with their phone the number of delegates. That will be transmitted to www.caucus2004.org, and you will be able to see the results come in at real time. Our hope is that we’ll have close to final results by 10 or 10:30 p.m.  

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