Iowa Blocks Masses of Voters

System bars absentee voting, triggers calls for reform
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 3:45 AM CST
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., arrives at a rally in Iowa City, Iowa, Jan. 1, 2008. Questions are being raised about the value of the Iowa caucus system, which excludes...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – White House hopefuls have put enormous efforts into the Iowa campaign—but only a small fraction of state residents will participate in the upcoming caucus, which critics charge is an undemocratic process that blocks masses of working-class people. In 2000, just 59,000 Democrats and 87,000 Republicans voted in a state of 2.9 million, reports the New York Times.

Absentee voting is not allowed. People must be present for up to two hours for the early evening community caucuses. Soldiers on active duty, invalids, parents without child care and evening workers at restaurants, hospitals and retail shops are largely blocked from participation. Still, reform is unlikely. “There is no incentive to change,” said one expert. “It corresponds to what Iowa wants, which is candidates spending time and resources in Iowa.”