Democratic presidential candidates are gearing up for the next contest in the 2020 race: the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22. After the delays, confusion and dysfunction in the Iowa caucuses, Nevada is under even more pressure to get its caucuses right.
Here’s how the Nevada caucuses work.
For the first time, people in Nevada could vote early between Feb. 15 and Feb. 18 by going to an early voting site and filling out a form to rank their top candidates in order of preference. The results stay locked away until Caucus Day.
On Feb. 22, people can visit their caucus site at one of the more than 250 locations across Nevada. Because Nevada has so many hotel and casino workers, the state offers “strip caucuses” at convenient locations, in businesses along the Las Vegas strip.
D. Taylor, president of Unite Here — the influential Culinary Workers Union Local 226’s parent union — told Yahoo Finance the strip caucuses and early voting make a big difference in boosting voter turnout.
“I think the more our members get engaged early and become the kind of voters to pay attention towards, the better off we are,” Taylor said.
Check-in begins at 10 a.m. local time and will be called to order at noon. People will then divide up into groups based on which candidate they support. Early votes will be factored in, as well.
Candidates have to gain a certain amount of support to become “viable.” The viability threshold varies, but in most cases it is 15% of total votes in one location. If a group doesn’t have enough support to be viable, they can move to a different candidate’s group, in a process known as “realignment.” If an early voter’s top candidate wasn’t viable, their highest-ranked viable candidate is factored into the realignment.
Delegates are then awarded to the groups based on size. In Nevada ties are broken with a deck of cards. Each group would pick a card from a deck and the highest card wins. Aces are high.
After the mess in Iowa, this will be a big test for Nevada. The state dropped its plans to use the same app that caused so much chaos in Iowa. Precinct chairs will instead use Google forms on an iPad to do caucus math — and the Nevada Democratic Party says there will be paper backups and oversight along the way.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.