Stacey Abrams calls on Democrats to 'revisit' how they launch primary season after Iowa delays

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is calling for the Democratic Party to “revisit” how it considers the launch of its primary season after technology problems in Iowa left its first-in-the-nation caucus results up in the air for more than a day.

“The Iowa Caucus is a long and storied tradition, but traditions can and do change. As we build a more accessible election process, we should revisit how Democrats launch our primary season,” Abrams, who lost her gubernatorial bid in 2018 to Republican Brian Kemp, said in a series of tweets Tuesday.

Abrams urged Democrats to consider opening the primary contest with states more “representative of the American people as a whole,” an apparent reference to Iowa’s largely white demographics. Iowa’s Democratic electorate was more than 90 percent white during the last presidential election cycle.

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She argued that the party could give people of color a greater voice in the process by holding primaries in multiple states on the first day of voting. 

Her comments followed a chaotic night in Iowa when results were delayed because of reporting issues and a problem with a phone app designed to transmit the final tallies. The state Democratic Party finally released its first batch of caucus results Tuesday evening, showing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE neck and neck atop the field.

The first release reflected 62 percent of the state’s results. It remains unclear when the final tallies will be disclosed. 

The extraordinary debacle Monday night caused widespread outrage among presidential campaigns and has reignited debate over Iowa’s position in the Democratic primary season. Julián Castro, who suspended his 2020 presidential campaign earlier this year, said in November that it was time for other states to take Iowa’s place. 

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“Demographically, it’s not reflective of the U.S. as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party, and I believe other states should have their chance,” he said.

Abrams’s critique of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status also extended to its voting system. Regardless of the tech issues, Abrams said that caucuses exclude people “who cannot participate because of work or family obligations.”

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“The most democratic process invites all eligible voices, which is why early and mail-in voting and a full Election Day are essential,” she said. “Suppression exists when voices are intentionally silenced AND when no one is willing to admit or fix the problem.”

Since losing a tight Georgia governor’s race in 2018, Abrams has directed her focus toward efforts to fight voter suppression. She announced last August that Fair Fight, an organization she founded following the race, would expand into several battleground states as part of a push to help Democratic candidates establish voter-protection programs ahead of the election.

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