Jim Clark: What to know about the Incline Village caucuses
January 28, 2016
This is a follow-up to last week's column about how Nevadans can vote for their favorite candidate for President of the United States.
It's not like the old days. Both the Republican and Democratic parties of Nevada have abandoned presidential primary elections in favor of party caucuses … neighborhood meetings convened to conduct business as well as vote.
Why are Nevada's caucuses important? Nevada is the first state in the west to vote for both parties' presidential candidates. The result will be seen as a bellwether reflection of mountain west and western state sentiments about the candidates.
Additionally, Nevada is the only early voting state that has strong conservative rural, liberal labor union, and minority populations. Accordingly, the Silver State results will be seen as a proxy for our neighboring states and could affect the momentum of presidential aspirants as well as their fundraising.
What's the difference between a caucus and an election? Caucuses are sponsored by political parties, not the state or Washoe County. There will be no notifications from the Secretary of State or Voters' Registrar about where and when to vote … no sample ballots will be mailed. No early or absentee voting is scheduled.
Everyone in Incline Village/Crystal Bay will vote at the Incline Middle School, not the library. Democrats will meet at 11 a.m. on February 20; Republicans will meet at 5 p.m. on February 23.
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Who can participate? Each party has different rules. The Democratic Party allows any eligible voter to participate (including 17-year-olds who will be 18 by November 8, 2016) but only if they register as Democrats on or before the date of their caucus.
Republicans must be registered GOP voters by February 13, 2016 (no same-day registration). They must bring a government-issued ID to the caucus. Republicans have the same rule as Democrats for 17-year-olds.
Non-partisan and minor party voters can participate, but must reregister in the major party of the candidate for whom they wish to vote. They can reregister back to whatever they were following the caucus and in any case will be eligible to vote in the November 8, 2016, general election.
What happens at a caucus? Once all participants have been checked and found eligible the caucus is called to order. Voting can start immediately for those unable to stay. The process calls for electing members of the county central committee, electing delegates to the county convention, hearing brief speeches on behalf of presidential candidates and finally asking for suggestions for inclusion in the county party's platform. It can conclude in 30 to 60 minutes.
What can be done to streamline things? In the past much time has been spent looking up participant's voter registration information and identifying the precinct they live in. Republicans can do that in advance by going to the website nevadagopcaucus.org. Click on "find your location," enter your name and address and you will receive an email identifying your precinct number and preregistering you for the caucus.
The Democratic Party website does not do that, but Democratic voters can get their precinct numbers from the Washoe County Voters Registrar (washoecounty.us/voters) and clicking on "Check your voter registration and election day information here."
This will be Nevada's third caucus in eight years. This time we'll get it right.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Wshoe and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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