HCC Student Sees Iowa Caucus Chaos Firsthand | WGLT

HCC Student Sees Iowa Caucus Chaos Firsthand

Feb 5, 2020

Heartland Community College journalism student Erik House said he decided on a whim Monday to drive to Iowa City to witness the political spectacle. He saw how messy democracy can be.

Problems with a voting mobile app caused results to be delayed for more a day and touched off a national conversation about how the country chooses its presidential candidates.

HCC student Erik House said he decided on a whim to attend the Iowa caucuses on Monday.
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT

House, 25, of Normal, said the challenges he saw with a mostly senior population of precinct leaders navigating a faulty voting app could set back efforts to expand electronic voting.

“We saw how technological and futuristic change took forefront in this caucus and reared its ugly head, no one is going to like that,” House said. “Everyone is going to go back to the way they want to do it. They are going to do paper ballots. They are going to try to be less open about the operation because it ran smoother that way.”

House said he watched at one precinct in a high school auditorium some caucus-goers left in frustration before they registered their support for their candidate.

House said a sense of nostalgia about being first in the nation to cast ballot in the presidential primaries could derail efforts to strip Iowa of that designation.

“Iowa is symbolic of something, I’m not sure of what, probably because it’s the heartland of America,” House said. “Even if it is small and not very diverse, especially from what I saw in those rooms, but also they still do things pretty antiquatedly,”

House noted that despite the difficulties that divided many of the caucus participants, he said he still left with an appreciation for how retail politics works. He recalled a conversation with a precinct captain for candidate Andrew Yang when it became clear to him he didn’t have enough support to garner any delegates, leaving his few supporters to consider other candidates.

House said the man told his supporters to “follow their heart.”

“We’re not going to make it in this room, so make the next best decision in your heart,” House recalled the Yang supporter replying. “That’s where that really lies is that whole unified idea of, you are going to be a Democrat, stick with it, go somewhere, don’t let your vote be wasted.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Prtizker has said the state of Illinois is diverse enough that it should seek first in the nation primary status. Illinois holds its primaries on March 17, after nearly half of the country casts ballots.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.