The chairman of Nevada’s Democratic Party said Monday that it’s time for the third early voting state to consider moving away from its caucus system and toward a primary during election cycles.
Nevada ― a battleground state that’s first in the West to hold a presidential contest ― held its caucus Saturday to determine delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination. According to the state’s Democratic Party, Nevada had increased in-person early voting as well as overall caucus turnout compared to the last election cycle, in addition to thousands of new Democratic voter registrations.
“I’m proud of our thousands of volunteers who worked so hard to make this caucus process run as smoothly as possible and inspired by the grassroots enthusiasm of the tens of thousands of voters who turned out to make their voices heard,” Party Chair William McCurdy II said in a statement, calling Saturday’s contest “our most transparent and accessible caucus ever.”
“With all of that said, I believe we need to start having a serious conversation ahead of the next cycle about the limitations of the caucus process and the rules around it,” he added. “If our goal is to bring as many Nevada Democrats as possible into the fold to select our presidential nominee, it’s time for our State Party and elected leaders to look at shifting to a primary process moving forward.”
In primaries, voters cast a single ballot with the winner determined by who receives the most votes. In caucuses, the state gives county convention delegates to viable candidates, which then determines how many national pledged delegates each candidate receives.
During a caucus’s first alignment, participants divide themselves into groups based on the candidate they each support. Candidates normally need at least 15% of participants at each precinct in order to be considered viable. Caucusgoers who choose a viable candidate during the first alignment cannot change their preference in the final alignment, while participants in nonviable groups have the option to either switch candidates or refuse to commit.
McCurdy’s statement came a day after former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called for all states, including his own, to move to a primary vote instead of a caucus system. Reid also encouraged the Democratic National Committee to make Nevada the first state in the nation to vote instead of Iowa and New Hampshire, two predominantly white states.
“I’m glad to have fought to make Nevada the first Western state in the Democratic nominating process since 2008, and we have proven more than worthy of holding that prominent early-state position,” Reid said Sunday. “I firmly believe that Nevada, with our broad diversity that truly reflects the rest of the country, should not just be among the early states ― we should be the first in the nation.”
Nevada, which has a signifiant Latinx population and organized labor presence, overwhelmingly went to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday with 46.8% of the vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden came in second at 20.2%, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third at 14.3%. Buttigieg’s campaign alleged that there were “errors” and “inconsistencies” in the caucus vote-counting process but did not request a recount.