Voting Heads West: A Nevada Republican Presidential Caucus Primer

Feb 3, 2012
Originally published on February 3, 2012 4:54 pm

While hotels along the Vegas Strip are full of Super Bowl fans and convention attendees this weekend, another event will be playing out Saturday at more than 100 locations across the state.

Nevada's Republican presidential caucuses will be taking place, not in expensive hotels, but mostly in low-key places like schools and firehouses.

David Gallagher of the Nevada state GOP says each county's local party is responsible for organizing its own caucus, so opening times vary.

In the northern part of the state, near Reno and the Sierra Nevada, caucus sites are opening a bit later, mostly because of snow and the difficulty of getting to a site.

Gallagher says once a caucus site is open, everyone signs in and there are just three things to do: "Folks get in there, they vote for their delegate. They'll submit a party platform, things that they are interested in. And they'll vote for their candidate."

Anyone wanting to speak on behalf of their candidate gets two minutes to talk. Ballots are then filled out, and the precinct captain tallies the votes.

The results are expected to start trickling out around 5 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET). Google and Twitter have teamed up with the state party to help get the results out fast.

But one caucus site will only open after sundown, delaying the state's final results for hours. Organizers set the caucus date on Saturday, which upset some religious residents, such as Orthodox Jews and Seventh Day Adventists, who can't vote on the Sabbath.

So a special after-sundown site will open in Las Vegas at the Adelson Educational Campus, founded by the same Adelson family that donated more than $11 million to a superPAC that supports one of the candidates, Newt Gingrich.

The results of that caucus and all the rest of Clark County — the largest in the state — may not be known until 11 p.m. local time.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

If you want to hear the results from Nevada tomorrow night, you may need to stay up pretty late. Mitt Romney is far ahead in the polls there, but results won't be complete until well past midnight on the East Coast.

NPR's Carrie Kahn explains why.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: I'm standing on the Las Vegas Strip just trying to gauge the excitement for the big event this weekend.

TOM ANDERSON: Which big event is that?

KAHN: Which big event are you here for?

ANDERSON: Safari Club International.

KAHN: What is that?

ANDERSON: That is the world's largest hunting convention.

KAHN: Oh, not the Super Bowl?

No, not the Super Bowl.

Not the Nevada caucus?

ANDERSON: Not the Nevada caucus. No. It's much more important than those other two things.

KAHN: Tom Anderson of Pittsburgh says he lost interest in the presidential race after his favorite candidate, Herman Cain, dropped out. But Nevada GOP officials say there's plenty of interest among other people in Saturday's caucuses, which will be held in more than 100 locations tomorrow.

None on the Vegas Strip, though. Hotels here are full up with conventions, tourists and Super Bowl fans. And, besides, it's too expensive to hold a caucus at a Las Vegas hotel. Most sites will be in places like schools and firehouses.

David Gallagher, a spokesman for the Nevada state GOP, says each county's local party is responsible for organizing its own caucus, so opening times vary. Up north, near Reno in the Sierra Nevada, the sites are opening a bit later, mostly because of snow and the difficulty of getting to a site.

Gallagher says, once the caucus site is open, everyone signs in and there are just three things to do.

DAVID GALLAGHER: Folks get in there, they vote for their delegate. They'll submit a party platform, things that they're interested in, and they'll vote for their candidate.

KAHN: Anyone who wants to speak on behalf of their candidate gets two minutes to talk. Ballots are filled out and the precinct captain tallies the votes. The results are expected to start trickling out around 5:00 p.m. Pacific time. Google and Twitter have teamed up with the state party to help get the results out fast at that point, but there's just one catch. One caucus site will only open after sundown, delaying the final results for hours.

Organizers set the caucus date on Saturday, which upset many religious residents, such as Orthodox Jews and Seventh Day Adventists. They can't vote on the Sabbath, so a special after-sundown site will open in Las Vegas. It's at the Adelson Educational Campus, founded by the same Adelson family that's known for donating more than $11 million to a superPAC that supports Newt Gingrich.

The results of that caucus and all the rest of Clark County, the largest in the state, won't be released until 11:00 p.m. local time or 2:00 a.m. in the East.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Las Vegas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.