Here’s how to vote in the Nevada Democratic Caucus

Here’s how to vote in the Nevada Democratic Caucus

by Ainslee Archibald, Editor-in-Chief

Nevada is the 3rd state to vote in the Democratic presidential primary, in between New Hampshire and South Carolina. This status as an early primary state means what happens on February 22nd, 2020 has a big impact on the rest of the country.

The first and most important thing to know for high school students is that if you’re 18 years old by the General Election on November 3, 2020, you can vote in the caucuses! This means plenty of 17-year-olds are eligible.

In order to vote in the NV Democratic Caucus, you must also be a registered Democrat. This is because the Nevada Democratic party runs “closed caucuses,” meaning only registered Democrats can vote in the caucuses. If registering as a Democrat makes you uncomfortable, you can change your registration to another party after voting! You just have to register as a Democrat either in advance or at the polling place in order to cast your vote in the Democratic caucus.

There are a few ways to meet this requirement. The easiest is to register to vote online in advance, with a DMV issued driver’s license or ID. This can be done by visiting RegisterToVoteNV.gov, and only takes a few minutes. If you don’t have the necessary ID to register to vote online, you can download, fill out, and mail in a physical form. Also, you may have registered to vote when you got your driver’s license. You can check your registration at nvsos.gov/votersearch.

If registering to vote in advance sounds like a hassle or you forget, there’s another option! Nevada has what’s called same-day voter registration, which is just like what it sounds; you can register to vote on the same day as the caucuses! Same-day registration is a great option, and it allows anyone who’s eligible to vote to register in time, no ID needed.

Now that you meet the requirements, how do you actually go about voting? There are two main options. Either you can vote early from Feb 15-18, or vote at the precinct caucuses on Feb 22.

To vote early, simply show up at any of the locations found through the caucus website, at caucus.nvdems.com. Make sure to verify the times, as not all locations are open all day, every day. Make a plan in advance on how you’re going to get to the location, and if you can take any friends with you.

Palo is an early voting site! Palo is open for early voting on Saturday, Feb 15, from 10AM – 6PM, and Tue, Feb 18, from 8AM – 8PM.

When you vote early, you will be asked to rank your top candidates, with a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5. To make things easier on yourself, try to decide on these candidates in advance. Keep in mind that there isn’t a benefit to voting in the precinct caucuses vs voting early; your vote will be weighted exactly the same. You can only do one, though!

If you’re unsure who to vote for, or enjoy chaotic political events, attending a precinct caucus on Feb 22 might be for you. If you’ve heard anything about the process in Iowa, which had the first caucuses of the year on Feb 3, this is that event.

First, find out which precinct location you’re supposed to go to. Check this on the caucus.nvdems.com website, and make sure you go to the right one! Unlike early voting, there is only one correct location for you on caucus day. Try to arrive as close to 10 am as possible when check-in starts, and absolutely no later than 12 pm, when the precinct is called to order. If you arrive late, you will not be able to vote!

First, there are some procedural concerns, like electing a caucus chair. Volunteers on the ground will walk you through how to participate. Then, voters will divide into their candidate groups. To do this, simply decide who your first choice presidential candidate is, and find the group of people who agree. If you’re undecided, don’t worry! Every campaign in the room wants your vote.

Once people have made their first choices, the candidate groups who aren’t considered “viable,” which is a threshold decided at the beginning of the meeting based on the number of voters present, will “realign” to their second choice. Often times, it will take a while for everyone to decide who their second choice is from these groups. Once everyone has chosen, these groups are the final votes for the precinct, and “caucus math” will determine delegates.

Caucus math is a bit like normal math- it doesn’t make any sense. The simplest way to explain it is that, based on the percentage of the room who chose a candidate, candidates receive a percentage of the delegates available in that precinct. In July at the Democratic National Convention, these delegates will decide the ultimate winner of the Democratic primary.

If this all sounds a bit convoluted, you’re right, it definitely is. Don’t worry about getting confused, though, because there will be plenty of volunteers and campaign staff on caucus day to help you through it. The most important thing to do is just show up, either at an early voting location or on caucus day, and have your say in who will run against Donald Trump in November.