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Nevada State Democratic Party expects NV caucuses to be 'make or break' for candidates

Posted at 6:41 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 08:15:57-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Just as soon as the New Hampshire primaries close Tuesday, all eyes will be on Nevada and for the first time in recent memory, there will be more than two candidates to choose from.

"Every time we've had a caucus in Nevada, we've been down to two candidates," said Ken Miller, assistant professor of political science at UNLV. "We were either picking between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama or we were picking between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Now for the first time, Nevada democrats have a menu of options when they caucus."

The Nevada State Democratic Party said that menu of options is a good thing for voters and makes Nevada crucial for candidates. But will Nevada be able to avoid the caucus chaos that unfolded in Iowa? The party had to move to a contingency plan after planning to use an app made by the same company as the one used in Iowa. The party has since cut ties with the company but has yet to detail plans for next Saturday's caucus.

Miller said he expects the party to go back to basics.

"They're falling back on a system that they've used before so this is old territory for them. It should run smoothly," said Miller.

So what do you need to know if you plan to caucus?

The caucus is Feb. 22. You can register to vote or change your registration to Democrat (required to participate in the caucuses) in person at your caucus precinct location. To find your precinct location, go to nvdems.com.

Doors open at 10 a.m. and the public voting process begins at noon. The first stage is known as the first alignment - that's where people will physically stand in the location that represents the presidential candidate of their choice. For a candidate to be considered viable they must get 15 percent of the vote.

If you're a voter and your first choice candidate isn't considered viable, you have a couple options going into to the second alignment - move to a candidate who is viable or try to recruit other voters to make a candidate viable. Once the voters are in place, the second alignment votes are tallied. This is what matters most for candidates - the delegates will be divided based on the viable candidates and the percentage of the vote they got.

Nevada is also the first state to ever allow early caucus voting, which begins this Feb. 15 and ends on Feb. 18.

RELATED STORY: Nevada Democrats to rely on paper-based early caucus voting