Caucus kids: Event aims to spark youth interest in caucuses

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DES MOINES — Hoping to ignite and capture young Iowans’ interest in the state’s leadoff spot in the presidential selection process, a statewide Iowa Youth Caucus will be held later this month.

The first-of-its-kind event is being created through a collaboration of the Secretary of State, the two state parties, and Polk County party leaders, each of which was represented Thursday at a joint news conference announcing the event.

“If we want to get more young people involved politically, we have to engage them. We have to involve them in public service, and programs like this do that,” said Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “There’s no better time to ensure they understand the caucus process and why it’s important.”

On Nov. 19, organizers will educate Iowa middle- and high-school students about the caucuses, including Iowa’s first-in-the-nation role and how Democrats and Republicans operate their caucuses differently. Then organizers will conduct a mock caucus, in which students will participate and ultimately support a presidential candidate.

The results will be reported by the Secretary of State’s office.

Thus far, 23 counties, including Linn and Johnson, have volunteered to organize Youth Caucus events, Secretary of State Paul Pate said.

“I get very excited when I see young people get an opportunity to get a hands-on experience with our government and see how it actually works,” Pate said. “It’s too easy in this age to be shut down or turned off to what’s going on in our government.”

The Youth Caucus is an extension of the Caucus 101 curriculum developed by Pate’s office in conjunction with Iowa teachers and designed to educate students about the caucuses.

McGuire and Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann said the parties are pleased to work on the Youth Caucus as a means to help promote and preserve Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.

“We made a promise long ago that we would stand shoulder-to-shoulder on our first-in-the-nation status,” Kaufmann said. “We take this serious, and we’re going to earn it again in 2016.”

Pate said Youth Caucus times and sites vary by county, but most counties are working with schools to serve as host sites, and most of the events are scheduled to start with registration in the late afternoon.

“We’re very excited about giving our young people an opportunity to learn firsthand how the Iowa caucuses work,” Pate said, “and to give them the background they need to become engaged in civics in their community.”

County and Location

• Allamakee: Waukon High School

• Boone: Boone High School

• Buchanan: Independence High School

• Buena Vista: Storm Lake High School

• Cass: Atlantic High School

• Clinton: Central DeWitt High School

• Dallas: Adel-Desoto-Minburn High School

• Fremont & Page: Shenandoah High School

• Guthrie: Panorama High School

• Johnson: Coralville Public Library

• Jones: Kirkwood Community College (Oct. 23)

• Keokuk: Sigourney High School

• Linn: Cedar Rapids Washington High School

• Marshall: Marshalltown Community College

• Polk: Des Moines Hoover High School

• Ringgold: Mount Ayr High School

• Scott: Scott County Library in Eldridge (Dec. 5)

• Story: Ames High School

• Taylor: Bedford Elementary School

• Union: Creston High School

• Warren: Indianola High School

• Winneshiek: Decorah High School

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