The third state presidential primary vote – the Nevada caucuses -- will be held Saturday amid growing fears that the debacle that was the vote count in Iowa could be repeated.
As Nevada’s Democratic Party is assuring presidential campaigns that a plan is in place to count votes and announce results in a timely manner, campaign aides are saying their concerns over vote tallies are not being addressed.
“It feels like the [state party is] making it up as they go along,” one Democratic presidential aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the process, told The Washington Post. “That’s not how we need to be running an election.”
"NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd," state party chair William McCurdy II said in a statement.
"We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus. We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward."
Early voting in the caucuses began last Saturday and will continue through Tuesday with the full slate of caucuses being held Saturday.
Here is a look at how the Nevada caucuses works:
Who can vote: Any person who is eligible to vote in the state of Nevada and will be at least 18 years old on Election Day in November may participate in the caucuses. Nevada has closed caucuses, meaning that only Democrats can vote in them. Participants may register to vote on the same day as the caucus, or change party affiliation at an early vote location or Caucus Day location.
How many delegates: The state has 36 delegates. Twenty-three are allocated by congressional district. Thirteen are at large, eight of those delegates are “party leaders and elected officials. Nevada also has 12 superdelegates. Superdelegates may vote for any candidate they choose to during the Democratic National Convention, but in a change of rules for the 2020 convention superdelegates will not vote until and unless there is a second round of nominating voting.
When will Nevada caucuses take place: Early voting began Saturday and will continue until Tuesday. Caucus Day is Saturday.
When do the caucuses end: Check-in for the caucus will begin at 10 a.m. PT and precinct caucuses will be called to order at noon. There is no closing time for the caucuses.
How does the voting work: Those voting early – last Saturday through Tuesday – will rank their top candidates in order of preferences. Early voters pick at least three candidates and rank them in order of preference. Votes from early voters will be added to the votes cast on Saturday. They will be added in during the first vote tally.
After that first tally, if the candidate that an early voter chooses is not viable (didn’t get at least 15% of the total vote tally) the second and third preferences of the early voter will be taken into account.
On caucus Day, Nevadans will caucus in two different ways. Voters will caucus in locations across the state beginning at noon. They will fill out a presidential preference card with their first choice for president. Like in Iowa, if the caucus-goer’s first-choice doesn’t meet the “viability threshold” or attract 15% support from the caucus-goers, a voter can “realign,” or pick another candidate who is already viable or the voter can join with others to make help make another candidate viable.
The second way Nevadans will vote applies to those who work in Las Vegas’ hospitality industry and the city’s casinos. These caucuses, called “strip caucuses” because it involves employees of the Las Vegas Strip, allow hotel and casino workers who would have trouble getting to caucus sites to caucus in businesses along the Strip. The Strip caucus takes place on Saturday.
How will delegates be awarded: The state has four congressional districts. Candidates' performance will determine the 23 district-level delegates, and statewide results will determine how many of the 11 at-large and "pledged elected official" delegates each candidate wins. For precincts electing four or more delegates, the viability threshold is 15%. For precincts electing three delegates, the threshold is one-sixth of the attendees. For precincts electing two delegates, the threshold is 25%.
To determine viability in each precinct, the chair will add the total number of in-person attendees to total number of early vote participants.
Who is ahead in the polls: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a 7-point lead heading into Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Former Vice President Joe Biden came in second in the poll with 18% support.
Can what happened with vote counts in Iowa be avoided: Officials in Nevada opted not to use the app that famously failed during the Iowa caucuses.
Instead, Nevada Democratic Party officials say, precinct chairs will load raw early vote totals by candidate for each precinct using a secure tabulation method using iPads that are preloaded with Google web form, a form template provided by Google.
The information from the early vote will be accessible through both the iPads and a paper copy, the NDP said.
On Saturday, volunteers will report votes from their precincts "through a secure hotline" to the state party.
What about Republicans: The Republican caucus was canceled this year.
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