Posted by Paul Fidalgo on July 30, 2009Substantive reform often requires baby steps. We at FairVote have been advocating for major overhaul of our presidential nomination process for some time now, and we've been encouraged that the parties seem to, at the very least, recognize that some changes need to happen.
Well, party officials in Iowa are doing a small part, and moving their 2010 caucuses from a weekday to Saturday. Caucuses can be lengthy events full of socializing, deliberation, and negotiation. Last year, the presidential caucuses were held on a Thursday, and though they were held in the evening, many people still had to work, or couldn't make it from work in time before doors closed. Having the event take place on a Saturday allows far more people to take part.
The hope, of course, is that this will carry over into the 2012 presidential caucuses to accommodate as many people as possible who wish to take part in this extremely influential contest.
It's not a flawless idea, of course. Plenty of people will still be working on a Saturday, and as the Politico points out, observant Jews will face a problem due to the Sabbath. From the article:
David Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University and a longtime political reporter and columnist for the Des Moines Register, said that although no day will be perfect for every group, a Saturday afternoon was about as close as the two political parties could get.Caucuses can be great ways for community members to get together and hash out what really matters to them in the context of a presidential candidate. But they can only be held on one day, and no matter what that day is, there will always be those who can't make it.
"This is a step in the right direction," Yepsen said. "It's recognition, that the problem the caucuses have is accessibility. People who want to go often can't get there. It will help both parties."
Another positive sign is that the 2010 caucus will be later in the month, from January 3 in 2008 to January 23 next year. If that becomes more of a standard, worries over pushing the presidential contests into Christmas season 2011 might be able to be put to bed. Might.
We've got some pretty interesting ideas about how to fix the primaries here at FairVote. Take a look at our recent Innovative Analysis in which we suggest having well-ordered state-by-state contests (caucuses or primaries) culminating in a final, decisive national primary, giving everyone in America a substantive voice in nominating presidential candidates.