Strong: Frustrate, anger and confuse

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“...having two nominating processes during the same week will ‘frustrate, anger and confuse Nevada’s Republican voters.’”

— Nevada Republican Club letter, Sept. 1

On Feb. 6, Nevada will hold its first presidential primary since 1980. Early voting begins on Jan. 27. The general primary for all other offices up for election will be on June 11.

Since 1984, Nevada has used the caucus system to nominate its presidential candidates, except for one 1996 Republican presidential primary. In a caucus system, voters from each county or district meet on a specific day, at a specific time, and choose the candidate they want for president. Voters must be physically present and must stay for the full caucus, usually several hours. Voting is not secret and there’s usually no early or absentee voting.

Before the vote, attendees defend their chosen candidates and a vote is held. During subsequent votes, the choices of candidates are narrowed. Delegates representing the top candidates are elected to go to the county conventions and then the state party convention. Delegates vote for their candidates, and the candidate with the most votes gets the state’s nomination. Caucuses are paid for by the parties.

For years, Nevada voters pushed to have a presidential primary election instead of a caucus system. In 2021, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill establishing a presidential primary, paid for by the state. The Nevada Republican Party opposed this bill.

Instead, Republicans will hold a presidential caucus Feb. 8, two days after the primary. Since caucus voters must attend in person and stay for the whole caucus, anyone who has to work that day, a Thursday, won’t be able to vote.

A primary election allows early voting and absentee ballots so more voters can participate. Nevada Republican Party leaders contend these provisions promote voter fraud.

Because of this, Nevada Republicans will be faced with a confusing and frustrating choice. The Republican state party has set some rules about the primary and the caucus. “The proposed rules... include provisions to bar any candidate from the caucus if they’re on the primary ballot... The Nevada GOP says it will only recognize – and award delegates to presidential candidates – based on the results of the caucus.” (Reno Gazette Journal, Sept. 24)

This means that any Republican presidential candidate who appears on the primary ballot will not be included in the caucus and will be ineligible to be awarded any delegates for the presidential nomination. Even if a Republican candidate gets a majority in the primary, it won’t matter.

“Republican National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid made it clear the state party would only be using results from their caucus to determine delegate allocation.” (Reno Gazette Journal, Oct. 2)

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald claims the caucus process will protect against fraud. McDonald was one of the fake electors who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election, even though Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske confirmed that the election had been fair and secure.

What does this mean for Nevada Republican voters? The presidential primary is being held on Feb. 6, so Republicans will receive mail-in ballots ahead of the election. There will be some candidate names on the ballots.

There will also be some names missing, including that of former President Donald Trump, who has formally filed for the caucus. This will undoubtedly cause a lot of confusion for Republicans who want to vote for Trump. For those who decide to vote in person, either early or on Election Day, they will find those same names missing from their ballot.

Along with the ballots, Republican voters should receive information from the state Republican Party about how to participate in the caucus, which is the only vote that will count. The Nevada Republican Club, based in Las Vegas, sent a letter on Sept. 15 to the state party, expressing their concerns about this.

“Overall, this process will hurt the Republican Party and our candidates in 2024….Voters who participated in the Primary will find that their votes didn’t count. The Nevada Republican Party will give average voters the impression they don’t care about them or their votes.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sept. 18)

The letter concluded that having a primary and a caucus will “frustrate, anger and confuse Nevada’s Republican voters, which will have negative impacts on our Presidential candidates, our Party in Nevada, and Nevada’s election process.” Frustrating, angering and confusing voters seems to be standard operating procedure for Republicans these days. That’s not good for anyone.

Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at


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