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Record turnout for Democrats’ early caucus

By Don Dike Anukam

Feature Image by Trevor Bexon

Nevada Democrats are celebrating a record turnout in their “First in the West” Nevada caucus early voting period. In four days, from Feb. 15-18, nearly 75,000 people participated in the early caucus activities hosted at 82 locations throughout the state.

Some voters waited up to two hours at Truckee Meadows Community College on Tuesday, the final day of the early caucus period. The last early voter was processed at 9:30 p.m. at the site. Volunteers estimated nearly nearly 800 voters visited the location that day.

Some other early caucus sites reported wait times up to three hours, including at Spanish Springs and Northwest libraries.

The Washoe County Democrats’ office was the busiest early caucus site in the county, drawing nearly 1,200 voters on Monday, Presidents Day. The local headquarters tallied total voters at their location at 3,824 (unofficial).

Bernie Sanders walks voters to the polls.
U.S Senator Bernie Sanders walks voters to the polls on the last day of early voting in the Democratic caucus. Image: Trevor Bexon

The Nevada Democratic Party said the majority of participants in this historic early vote period were first-time caucus-goers. The organization also touted that voting took place in three languages: English, Spanish and Tagalog.

“People are so excited to cast their ballot. They want to participate without going to the actual caucus next Saturday, and I’m really grateful they seem to be having a good time in line,” said Washoe County Democratic Party Chairwoman Sarah Mahler last Saturday at the start of the early caucus period. “We did our job here very well. I know some people had to wait longer than others, but I’m very excited.”

The caucus has drawn the nation’s attention, and that of presidential candidates vying for a shot in the general election. Over the past week Northern Nevada has had visits from many of the candidates including Tom Steyer, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Numerous campaign surrogates and political dignitaries have also traveled through the state, endorsing and promoting candidates, and generating excitement among local Democratic activists.

The next major test for Nevada Democrats will be tomorrow when tens of thousands of voters meet in their communities to caucus together. State party organizers face pressure to pull off a smooth and efficient process after caucus troubles plagued Iowa’s event.

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1 comments

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Elaine Hoem February 21, 2020 - 3:23 pm

While this early caucus provides great opportunities for voters, it needs to be better organized and made more easily available to those who come. At my site, there was only one day of voting. We probably needed at least three.
I waited in line for 3 hours then left when I realized that it would another 1 1/2 hour at least before I got to cast my ballot. There were no bathroom facilities at this voting place, only two porta-potties. I would estimate that about 1000 people snaked through the library stacks. One woman fainted because it was too hot and too close in the library. There were three bright spots – goodwill amongst all of us in line, water bottles eventually being distributed, and one enterprising girl scout was selling cookies later in the afternoon. We really needed this nourishment after so many hours in line. I know we can do better than this next time around with more hours and days made available to vote, with more chairs along the lines for people who needed to sit, and with a different polling system than was available this year.

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