Abby Johnson: Nevada is first in the West
My mother favored the biblical expression “Pride cometh before a fall.” If she were still alive, she might have said that about the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses. Being first comes with a national spotlight on glory and goofs. It’s a huge responsibility. Nevada Democrats await their turn as the second caucus state, learning more every day about what went wrong in Iowa.
The word is that the Nevada Dems are adjusting their process to assure a functional caucus with known outcomes and fewer technology glitches. Hiccups will occur with or without technology. But a big difference between Iowa and Nevada is that the Nevada Democratic Party is offering early caucus “voting” for the first time.
Early voting in general elections is popular and familiar in Carson City. According to the Clerk’s office, in the 2016 general election, over 58 percent of voters cast their ballots early, before Election Day.
Nevada Democrats who wish to avoid the hubbub of the actual caucus can caucus vote early, beginning Saturday. As reported by the Nevada Independent, registered democrats will check in with party officials who verify the voter’s registration. The voter will receive a voter card and a scannable paper ballot with a unique four digit code to choose presidential preferences. The completed paper ballots and voter cards are collected in a sealed ballot box. Results of early voting will be tabulated by precinct and made available to the precinct caucus chairs to combine with the caucus preferences.
In Carson City, early voting at the Community Center Ponderosa Room will be available Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m., and Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.. The Ponderosa Room is near the southeast corner of the Community Center, located at Roop and East William Streets.
To participate in the Democratic presidential caucus/early vote process you must be a registered Democrat. But caucus rules and Nevada state law allow for same day registration; you can register as a Democrat when you show up to caucus or early vote.
Carson City caucus locations on Feb. 22 depend on where you live. The easiest way to find your Feb. 22 caucus location is to check the Nevada Democrats website at https://nvdems.com/2020-caucus/.
For Saturday caucus-goers, registration begins at 10 a.m. on Feb. 22 and the caucus kicks off at noon. In a precinct, voters will group themselves with other supporters of the same candidate to determine presidential preference. Head-counting is involved. For caucus-goers who support candidates who do not amass at least 15 percent in the initial round, there’s an opportunity to align with different candidates in the next round.
I helped with voter registration at a caucus site in 2016 and was encouraged by the number of Carson City families and young people who showed up to express their presidential preferences. I hope there’s an even bigger turnout this year.
But even more, I hope that early caucus voting attracts people who would otherwise not caucus. Three days of early voting provides more times and options for people who can’t attend in person on Saturday and voters who don’t like caucus process. Very important: Early caucus voting will likely be easier for the elderly and disabled.
Demographically, Nevada as “first in the West” is more representative of the diversity of the nation than Iowa or New Hampshire. It is unclear from early caucuses and primaries which candidates can go the distance, but democrats in Nevada are able to influence the outcome by showing up to be counted.
Early caucus voting should be an easy way to participate without being at caucus day. Whether you early vote or you caucus as a Democrat, the most important thing is to be part of the process to select the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.
Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker.