Friday, December 28, 2007

Iowa's brand of democracy

By Edward Copeland

The Iowa caucuses are a strange beast in general, with multiple locations where Iowans brave whatever winter weather might be occurring to stand in a room and publicly declare their support for a candidate. However, what's not so well known is Iowans who work night shifts are disenfranchised BY STATE LAW. Their employers are not required to let them off to go vote. From the Des Moines Register story:

Ruth Kennedy's boss won't let her take time off from her night-shift job so she can caucus. She's not alone — emergency workers and other Iowans on the night shift will miss the marquee political event in Iowa.
Three weeks ago, Kennedy asked to leave her customer service job at Mediacom at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 3 so she could caucus for Democrat Hillary Clinton. She said her supervisor waited until Christmas Eve to deny the request, saying that they couldn't spare her, that they hadn't had such requests before and that one fewer person at the caucus wouldn't make a difference anyway.
"It made me so furious," said Kennedy, who lives in Des Moines. "I raised such a fit I'm surprised they didn't send me home."
Nothing in the law requires Iowa employers to give workers time off so they can stand up for the presidential candidate of their choice.

In something that's certain to hurt Dodd, emergency services in Des Moines are fully staffing firefighters and then some for caucus night, meaning the union that endorsed him will have a lot of members unable to caucus.

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