CORONAVIRUS

Iowa Republicans to use mail-in voting for district conventions

Gatherings ditched despite optimism that normalcy will return in April

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a GOP District Convention on April 28, 2018, at West High in Iowa City. The state Repub
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a GOP District Convention on April 28, 2018, at West High in Iowa City. The state Republican Party announced Friday it won’t hold its April 25 district conventions in person this year, given coronavirus restrictions, but instead conduct party business via mail-in ballots. (The Gazette)

The Republican Party of Iowa has decided not to convene congressional district conventions April 25 and instead conduct business with mail-in ballots.

“These are obviously extraordinary circumstances,” party spokesman Aaron Britt said Friday. “This is an unprecedented time.”

Earlier, the Iowa Democratic Party postponed its county conventions that were scheduled for March 21. The GOP county conventions had been held a week earlier, on March 14.

Britt said mail-in ballots won’t allow the face-to-face interaction between delegates and between delegates and GOP candidates, but the process will allow for the election of delegates to the state and national conventions and members of the State Central Committee.

Although the district conventions were still a month away, Britt said the party’s State Central Committee had to make a decision because standing committees — rules, credentials, platform and organization — were scheduled to meet Saturday.

The choice was between a video conference format or mail-in balloting, and committee members decided a video conference “could get pretty complicated pretty quickly.”

Each district has more than 300 delegates — 362 in the 20-county 1st District, 338 in the 24-county 2nd, 381 in the 16-county 3rd and 422 in the 39-county 4th.

Using paper ballots seemed the most reliable and feasible option.

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On a call, he said, “anyone could say they are Aaron Britt and there’s not a way to verify that.” A mail-in ballot allows for delegates to submit an affidavit of identity.

The party is working on options that would allow candidates to talk to the delegates, “but we don’t know what the logistics would look like,” Britt said.

NO PUSHBACK

A Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday found that 61 percent of Republicans agree with President Donald Trump that, despite the coronavirus, America could begin rolling back some of the virus-inspired restrictions by Easter Sunday, April 12.

Despite that optimism, Britt said the state party has had no pushback or complaints about its decision to skip the in-person district conventions April 25.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “People understand it’s a unique situation, and that when you’re faced with an international health crisis, you have to make some changes.”

More information about the GOP convention plans can be found on the state party’s website.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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