Nevada caucuses

Voters in Laughlin’s Precinct 1074 show their ballots during the 2016 Democratic Party caucus held at Bennett Elementary School. The 2020 Democratic caucus begins Saturday with early balloting and culminates Feb. 22 across the state. Bennett Elementary again will be the gathering place for Laughlin-area Nevada Democratic voters for the First in the West precinct caucus on Feb. 22.

LAUGHLIN — Nevadans will be casting early votes in the Democratic caucuses at 80 sites across the state, starting this weekend and continuing up to the 18th using paper ballots ahead of the scheduled Feb. 22 caucuses in the Silver State.

Local early voting will be held at the Laughlin Library  starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and Tuesday.

The Nevada Democratic Party will use paper ballots to collect presidential preferences during the early voting period for its caucuses, according to a party memo released Tuesday morning. The state Democratic Party originally planned to use an app similar to the one used in Iowa and manufactured by the same company (Shadow Inc.) that caused a fiasco gathering results.

“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus ... will not happen in Nevada on Feb. 22,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy said. “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.” 

Iowa did not have early voting ahead of their regular caucus. 

Nevada early voters will check in using a PDF file pre-loaded onto iPads which contains the Nevada voter rolls which will not be connected to the internet. Voters who are not registered Democrats will be allowed to change their registrations at early voting sites.

Voters will be given a card with a personal identification number and their Nevada Secretary of State ID number, which the memo said “will help connect voters to their home precinct.”

Each participant will enter the numbers from their voter cards into a Google Form “as an additional method to track participants and streamline data collection.” Paper sign-in sheets will be available as a backup.

Voters will select three to five preferences on a paper ballot, which they will insert with the card into a ballot box at the early voting site. The party said a volunteer will monitor the ballot box. Observers and campaign staff will be allowed to monitor this process. The ballot boxes will be transported to “designated ballot processing hubs” controlled by the party. The ballots will be scanned and stored. The ballots will be linked to a voter ID number through the Google Forms check-in, so the ballots can be sent to the appropriate precincts on caucus night.

The party said a chain of custody will track the boxes as they leave the early voting sites and arrive at the hubs. Presidential campaigns will be told who voted early, but not who was listed on the voters’ cards. The preferences technically do not count until they are allotted during the traditional caucus day, so no results will be available before Feb. 22. 

About 3,000 volunteers are being trained to run the early vote caucuses and actual precincts on caucus day, party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said Tuesday. The party will continue to recruit and train volunteers up until Feb. 22. 

Forgey said the party is still working out the processes by which results will be reported on caucus day. Some of the options being tested are strictly pencil-and-paper, while others use some form of technology.  

“Getting it right is the No. 1 priority,” she said.

Unlike a primary, candidates must receive a certain number of votes in each caucus in order to move onto a second round, when delegates are awarded. Early votes factor into several mathematical formulas used to determine this, so any problems with the paper ballots and voter cards could have a ripple effect. 

As for the regular caucuses to be held Feb. 22, registered Democrats will arrive and check in at their precinct caucus location at 10 a.m. and precinct caucuses will be called to order at noon. When the caucus begins, eligible caucus-goers divide to form presidential preference groups. If a preference group for a candidate does not have enough people to be considered “viable,” (a threshold set at the start of the precinct caucus; 15% of caucus attendees is standard in Democratic contests), eligible attendees will have an opportunity to join another preference group. Delegates then are awarded to the preference groups based on their size.

Any registered Democrat in the state may participate in the caucus process through one of two processes: in-person early voting or attending a precinct caucus.

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