What if Everyone Voted? Iowa City panel discussion open to the public, Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

What if...I’ll be speaking on the role of religion in politics as part of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center‘s popular public forum series, “What If…”

This week’s topic: “What if everyone voted?

The University of Iowa Public Policy Center invites you to join us for a series of public forums where our researchers will examine different hypothetical scenarios and their unintended consequences, and present their relevant research.

The last event in this series asks, “What if everyone voted?” Full voter turnout would have myriad consequences for our electoral system, political campaigns, and representation by government officials. Experts will provide thought-provoking reflections on this scenario in order to spur further discussion.

Title: What If…Everyone Voted?
When: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014, 7:00-8:30 PM
Where: Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

Topics raised will include:

  • questions about campaign contributions and potential changes to campaign strategies
  • election reform
  • presidential nominations (including the Iowa Caucus)
  • election administration, costs, benefits, and other factors
  • the role of religion in politics
  • effects on public policy and the role of political/social inequality

Come for an evening to ponder what really would happen if everyone actually voted.

 

This series of events is co-sponsored in kind by:

 

our first iowa caucus experience

Republican Iowa Caucus Precinct 16 at Lucas School in Iowa City, Jan 3, 2012.

The outgoing and newly-elected Chairs speak at the Precinct 16 Republican Iowa Caucus at Lucas School in Iowa City, Jan 3, 2012.

Roslyn and I (and baby Mac) just finished our first Iowa Caucus experience. After participating in the Coffee Bean Caucus at Hamburg Inn this weekend, we did the real thing tonight in Iowa City, home of The University of Iowa Hawkeyes, as well as the Departments of Religious Studies and Classics (where I teach).

As most of you know, we are registered as unaffiliated voters in Iowa (just as we were in California). This means we do not belong to a political party. Because the Democratic and Republican caucuses take place at the same time at different places, you can only attend one. And, you must be registered with the party that is caucusing in order to participate. Luckily, you can register with the party at the door. So, since the Democratic Iowa Caucus is uncontested, Ros and I chose to attend the GOP Iowa Caucus, and registered as Republicans at the door.

(Fear not, we’ll re-register as unaffiliated voters in a couple of weeks and reassert our independent status. But we wanted to attend a contested primary and as moderate independents, either party will work for a night.)

So we went and we participated. And I tweeted the process live. We listened to short, 5-minute speeches from representatives of some of the candidates. And then we voted. And this is the big difference between the GOP and Democratic caucuses: at the GOP caucus, after the 5-minute pitches, you take a secret ballot vote. The votes are then counted and the winners announced. However, at the Democratic caucus, you ‘vote with your feet’: you physically walk to areas for each candidate and are counted. Then, after an initial vote, backers of different candidates walk around and attempt to convince other caucus participants to join them in support of their candidate. This is especially important for candidates with less than 15% of the vote, who cannot receive delegates. But at the GOP caucus, we simply voted and awaited the result.

MacLaren couldn't handle the excitement at the Precinct 16 GOP Iowa Caucus at Lucas School, Jan 3, 2012.

All of the excitement was too much for MacLaren to handle at Precinct 16 of the GOP Iowa Caucus at Lucas School, Jan 3, 2012.

We were told that Republican Precinct 16 is one of the larger GOP precincts in the People’s Republic of Johnson County, so Precinct 16 may very well be a decent model for the larger GOP Iowa Caucus field.

The announced results were as follows:

Romney: 62
Paul: 48
Santorum: 28
Gingrich: 10
Perry: 10
Huntsman: 2
Bachmann: 2
Undecided: 1

It was simple and I must admit, it was the most fun and most personal experience I’ve ever had as a voter (although MacLaren was completely overwhelmed by the excitement). I like the Iowa Caucus process, and next election we’ll attend the Democratic Caucus to actually ‘vote with our feet’.

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