How the Nevada Democratic caucus process will work

Doors open at 10 a.m. Saturday for Democratic caucus-goers in Carson City and each precinct’s caucus will start at noon.

There are three caucus sites in the capital: Carson Middle School, Eagle Valley Middle School and Pioneer High. Participants are required to be registered Democrats and to caucus at the site holding their voting precinct.

At the caucuses, participants will group together with others who support their candidate for the nomination into presidential preference groups.

First, the preferences of all the early voters who turned out this week are added to each precinct. Early voters chose their top three picks in order of preference.

Those ballots will have a significant impact on who places first, second and third since nearly 75,000 Nevada Democrats turned out during the four days of early voting.

After that, the math starts and it can seem a bit complicated.

First, each precinct chair has to determine which candidates are “viable” — meaning they have enough support to qualify for one or more delegates. They do that by counting the number of participants in each precinct caucus. For caucuses with two delegates, viability is 25 percent of the eligible attendees. For three delegate precincts, its one-sixth of the number attending and for precincts with four or more delegates, it’s 15 percent.

Supporters of candidates that don’t meet the threshold then have 15 minutes to “realign” and support another candidate. Early voter ballots for non-viable candidates are moved from their first choice to their second preference.

An example: say there are 79 participants in a precinct that awards seven delegates. Fifteen percent of 79 is 11.85 percent. To be viable, a candidate must get at least 11.85 percent of total participants.

After that process is done, there’s more math to determine how many delegates each candidate in a race gets. But each candidate determined to be viable gets at least one delegate.

In the first sample precinct, a candidate with 14 supporters has 17.7 percent of the total and is viable. In the second, a candidate with 19 supporters has 24 percent and is also viable.

To determine how many of those seven delegates each gets, precinct captains will multiply the number of supporters behind each candidate by the number of delegates, then divide that by the total number of precinct participants.

In the example cases above, that would work as follows: Candidate A has 14 supporters times seven delegates, divided by the total 79 participants — qualifying him or her for 1.24 delegates.

Candidate B has 19 supporters times seven delegates, divided by 79 — 1.68 delegates.

Those with a number higher than 0.5 after the decimal point get their delegate count rounded up one. Those below 0.5 have their delegate count rounded down. So Candidate A gets 1 delegate and Candidate B two delegates.

The results are then put together and reported to the State Democratic Party. But because the process is complicated, party officials have already said they seriously doubt results will be tabulated and made public on Saturday.


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