OPINION: What we can learn from the #IowaCaucusDisaster

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Each person who came in and voted at the Manhattan Public Library, and any other voting area, was given an "I Voted" sticker. (File photo)

On Feb. 3, the internet exploded following the Democratic National Committee’s failure to release results due to inaccuracies in precincts results, apparently due to issues with an app.

The first sign of a true winner didn’t emerge until Sunday evening when the state party released numbers suggesting newcomer Pete Buttigieg escaped Iowa with a narrow lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

In the midst of conspiracies running amok and legitimate concerns about the reliability of the results, for Iowa, one thing is clear.

Caucusing is outdated, undemocratic and it’s time for it to finally kick the bucket.

Don’t get me wrong, caucusing has its appeal. That’s part of the reason it’s survived this long. They can be an exciting and unique opportunity to politically engage with your friends and neighbors, as they offer the opportunity to persuade others to support your candidate. Moreover, caucusing has played a role in transitioning from a candidate selection process that historically used to be only for the elite party officials.

However the degree to which delegates are awarded arbitrarily and disproportionately is no longer acceptable in a democracy that professes to be representative.

The democratic process should never come down to the flip of a coin.

Allowing more people access to the process via primaries would help prevent the need for such tiebreakers, and allow the voice of the people to be more clearly heard. Primaries offer a degree of flexibility that accommodates those who cannot afford to take off work and spend several hours of their evening standing around in a school gym arguing with people. Voters may mail their ballot or vote in advance, whenever it works for their schedule.

In the 21st century, there is no need for this antiquated system to be employed any longer when we have a much more viable, reliable alternative.

These reasons are all part of why many states are making the switch to primaries instead of caucusing. The Republican party in Kansas did so back in 2016, and the Democratic party will do so this year. The upcoming Democratic primary in May will even go a step further by employing ranked-choice voting.

While caucusing itself was not the primary perpetrator of the disaster in Iowa — it appears to be mostly due to an untested app and poorly prepared leadership — it certainly didn’t do the people any favors.

Retiring caucuses is just one of the many electoral reforms our country needs, such as investing in election security and doing away with the winner-take-all delegate practice. However, the confusion that dominated the Iowa caucus this year is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

With the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see how differently the dynamics of the process play out, let’s just hope it doesn’t take as long to get results.

Rebecca Vrbas is a senior in journalism and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.