Penn to host satellite caucus for Iowans in Pennsylvania

Charlotte Reese
January 12, 2020 - 10:07 am
Democratic presidential candidates participate in a televised debate on December 19, 2019 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Six candidates will be on the stage in Tuesday's debate in Des Moines, and in less than a month, Iowans will caucus for who they want to be the Democratic nominee. But the caucus is also stretching to Philadelphia this year. 

The University of Pennsylvania is one of 97 satellite caucuses available to Iowans not in-state on February 3. Other satellites include Nashville, Tennessee and the Republic of Georgia.

"Just because we're not in Iowa in the present moment, doesn't mean we're not still concerned with Iowa," said Jessica Anderson, a third-year undergrad at Penn and Iowa resident. She said college students and snow birds, particularly, have trouble voting in Iowa, where neighborly discussions are held before a vote rather a closed ballot. 

Iowa is one of a dozen states voters must be present on caucus night, so mail-in or absentee ballots are not counted. 

Anderson tried to get the caucus started on her own but was having trouble finding other Iowans, until the Sanders campaign contacted her.

"They said, 'Us and the campaign have this voter data. We can get the word out to the people but if you organize it, that would be great,'" she recounted, "and I said I was already planning on doing it, so it just worked out perfectly."

This is the second time Iowa approved satellite caucuses. In 2016, the state approved four test satellite locations. This year, Iowans will caucus from Palm Springs, California to Paris, France. "Anybody who's interested in investing in the direction of the future of America should be able to do so," said Anderson. 

As for her candidate, she said she plans to caucus for entrepreneur Andrew Yang, whom she met a couple years ago at an Iowa Wing Ding event.

"I got to talk to him before he was popular so we spent about 20 minutes, and I was just really impressed," she recalled. Yang did not qualify for the debate this week. 

The deadline for Iowans to register for the satellite caucus in January 17.