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What to know ahead of Iowa caucus night

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MASON CITY, Iowa (KTTC) -- In just a few days Iowa voters will have their voices heard on the national stage. Many Iowans enjoy being the center of the political world every four years. They also enjoy the process that's unlike you standard presidential primary.

Cerro Gordo County Caucus Committee Chairwoman Kris Urdahl.

"When you go to vote, you just go in and make your vote, this is a little bit more engaging for everyone," Kris Urdahl, Cerro Gordo County Caucus Committee Chairwoman said.

The Iowa Caucus process is engaging and unique, and at least on the Democratic side, can be difficult to understand. On top of that, this year, the process is a bit different.

Example of the new presidential preference card.

One new thing is the addition of the presidential preference card. "That goes ahead and gives written documentation of how each of the caucus attendees designated the person they wanted to support," Urdahl said.

Once registration is complete folks gather with other caucus goers who support their preferred candidate. After everyone is in place, the count is taken for what's known as the first alignment.

Candidates without 15 percent of attendee support in the room are considered non-viable, and attendees supporting non-viable candidates are then released to consider other candidates.

Urdahl said this year folks need to pay attention to the group that they're in.

"Once you are in a group that's viable, you cannot move," Urdahl added, "If the group undecided are viable, they are locked."

After people in the unviable groups move to other candidates, that's considered the final alignment and that count will dictate how delegates are awarded.

Things are different for the Republican party.

"We (Democrats) go ahead and divide up into preference groups as opposed to the Republicans do more of a straw and poll," Urdahl stated.

Cerro Gordo County Republican Party Chairwoman Barbara Hovland.

"Republican party doesn't have ballots per say with everyone's names on them," Barbara Hovland, Cerro Gordo County Republican Party Chairwoman said. Instead, they will have to write the name of their preferred candidate on a piece of paper.

The turnout for Republicans this year is expected to be lower than in 2016 due to having a sitting president, but that could change in the future with a change to the Republican caucus process.

"I see in the future maybe that we give an opportunity for more people to caucus rather than just during one hour on a cold winter night," Hovland said.

The decisions made Monday night are just the first steps on the long road to election night in November.

"We're wanting to go ahead and get the White House back," Urdahl stated. "I think he (President Trump) can take on anybody head on in the Democratic Party," Hovland added.

Doors close for the caucuses Monday night at 7 p.m., and Democrats who show up after that time will not be able to participate.

Ubah Ali

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