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The Nevada Independent

Live Blog: Nevadans turn out to caucus

The Nevada Independent Staff
The Nevada Independent Staff
Election 2020

It’s finally here.

Months of organizing and television ads, a frantic two-week rush after New Hampshire, and Nevada Democrats are finally heading to caucus on Saturday morning to determine allocation of the state’s 36 unpledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Although the delegate haul is small, almost all of the party’s presidential hopefuls have made a concentrated effort to perform well in the caucus to continue or regain their campaign’s momentum.

Already, some 75,000 Democrats cast early vote ballots, which will be tabulated and counted alongside those of Democrats who show up today for the actual caucus process. Check-in starts at 10 a.m. PST, and the caucus will begin at noon. A list of the 252 caucus sites is available here.

Unlike normal elections, where the candidate with the most votes usually wins, caucuses have a few unique rules and twists. Candidates must achieve support from 15 percent of caucusgoers in each precinct to be deemed viable, and supporters of “nonviable” candidates in each precinct are free to realign with another candidate.

The delegate math is also different. Twenty-three of the state’s allocated 36 delegates will be doled out proportionally based on results from the state’s four congressional districts, and another 13 delegates awarded based on the statewide results. Candidates have to hit the 15 percent viability number in both statewide and congressional district totals to get a share of delegates.

The Nevada State Democratic Party will release four sets of results after the caucus is over:

  • The raw number of voters for first and final alignments
  • Total number of voters who “early voted” at each precinct
  • Total turnout in each precinct
  • Total number of county convention delegates won by each candidate at each precinct

It’s that final metric of county convention delegates that television networks and others will use to determine which candidate has “won” the caucus. The earliest that results could be released would be around 1 p.m., but the state party has not committed to releasing results today.

Although the caucus process is only for registered Democratic voters, anyone can show up and register with the party on Caucus Day and participate in the process.

If you see or hear of any issues at Caucus Day sites, please fill out this form to get in touch with The Nevada Independent.

6:29 p.m. Lee announces she backed Buttigieg in Nevada’s caucus

Susie Lee at a podium wearing a blue shirt
Susie Lee, who won the race for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, gives her victory speech during the Nevada Democratic Party election night event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Democratic Rep. Susie Lee, who had stayed neutral in the Democratic presidential race ahead of Nevada’s first-in-the-West nominating contest, announced Saturday that she backed former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Lee, in a statement, said that Buttigieg “understands how decisions in Washington affect families struggling to make ends meet on main street” and lauded his “straightforward approach to problem solving, integrity and leadership style.”

“I've long believed that Washington needs to focus more on bringing real results to our communities and less on partisan bickering,” Lee said. “I truly believe that Mayor Pete's message of consensus building and common sense solutions would make life better for my constituents.”

Lee added that she will support whoever wins the Democratic presidential nomination. Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the caucus.

— Megan Messerly

6:25 p.m. Buttigieg goes after Sanders as he bids Nevada goodbye for now

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to supporters after Nevada's presidential caucus on Feb. 22, 2020 (Jana Sayson/The Nevada Independent)

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg struck a battle-ready tone as he spoke to supporters Saturday evening in Las Vegas, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders sailed to victory in Nevada’s caucus.

It was still too early to tell how other Democratic contenders, including Buttigieg, fared in the first-in-the-West nominating contest, although his campaign released non-verified, independent results from volunteers indicating a second-place finish. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, congratulated Sanders on his “strong showing” but then delivered a speech that didn’t mince any words when it comes to the sharp differences between the two candidates.

“I believe the best way to defeat Donald Trump and deliver for the American people is to broaden and galvanize the majority that supports us on the critical issues,” he said. “Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans. I believe we can defeat Trump and deliver for the American people by empowering the American people to make their own health care choices with Medicare for all who want it.”

Buttigieg went on to say that Sanders’ “tenor of combat and division and polarization” would do nothing to end the toxic political state of our nation. He pitched himself as the person able to mend those divisions, vowing to continue fighting in the race.

“We are moving on from this Battle Born state with a battle on our hands,” he said.

A supporter of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg listens as he speaks after Nevada's presidential caucus on Feb. 22, 2020 (Jana Sayson/The Nevada Independent)

His caucus day appearance — moved inside at Springs Preserve after a torrential downpour — brought a standing-room-only crowd. Among the attendees was Jacob Lewis, 31, who changed his voter registration from Libertarian to Democrat this morning and caucused for Buttigieg.

Lewis called Buttigieg the “moderate choice” who’s a solid counterpoint to Trump. 

“I want politics to be boring again,” Lewis said. “That would be really nice.”

— Jackie Valley

5:56 p.m. Delays at Desert Oasis lead to a high energy caucus

Voters participate at a Democratic presidential preference caucus at Desert Oasis High School on Feb. 22, 2020. (Kristyn Leonard/The Nevada Independent)

Realignment at Desert Oasis High School was a heated process for caucus-goers, who gave impassioned speeches to unaligned voters in an attempt to garner more support for their candidates.

Tensions and passions were high after voters had to wait an extra hour and a half to begin the caucus, things finally getting underway at about 1:35 p.m. The delay was a result of missing early voter ballots, which caused check-in to begin an hour late.

For some, this delay served to further aggravate already negative opinions on the caucus. As the realignment process began for one precinct, a Biden supporter stood and urged unaligned voters to realign with “anyone but Bernie,” to try and limit his delegate lead. 

One Sanders supporter gave a passionate response.

“We have our own party working against us,” he said. He urged his fellow voters to help Sanders, “steamroll through the process,” toward the nomination, earning a round of cheering and applause.

For others, the delay seemed to be a bonding experience. Voters in another precinct were laughing even as they argued, pitching their candidates informally to the two unaligned voters. 

When one voter misspoke, accidentally voicing his support for “Bernie” rather than his chosen candidate “Biden,” the precinct erupted with laughter and the voter playfully sat in the Bernie section, hanging his head before jumping back to his feet to finish his speech.

“You know, any of them would be a good candidate,” he concluded with a good-natured shrug as he took his seat. 

—Kristyn Leonard

5:42 p.m. At Earl Wooster High School, questions and frustrations arise over implementation process of early votes and caucus votes 

Caucusgoers getting excited before causing by doing the wave at Wooster High School in Reno on Feb. 22 (Joey Lovato/The Nevada Independent)

About 50 people waited outside of Earl Wooster High School in Reno just before the 10 a.m. check-in time for the caucus. Among them were mostly volunteers for different candidate campaigns, chatting in the warm morning sun. 

Cassie Stewart, 25, tried to vote early on Tuesday afternoon but decided against it when she discovered a four-hour wait at Northwest Reno Library and deferred to caucus over the weekend instead. 

At precinct 2025, Stewart caucused for Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom she had also chosen in 2016. She said she had some concerns about the new caucus process because “there’s always wrinkles,” but said she hoped votes would be counted correctly. 

“That’s why we’re all here,” Stewart said. 

The precinct had a total of 12 in-person voters and 34 early votes for a total number of 46 people, making their group eligible for awarding three delegates. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren failed to get enough support to be considered viable in the precinct, despite four people present electing Sanders as their preferred candidate. 

The first alignment went smoothly, but the second and final alignment, where voters choose between their current candidates or jumping into another camp, hit a few snags.

First, voter DJ Racis, 36, corrected the volunteer tallying votes. 

“Well, at least with the way that [volunteers] were aligning it for the second vote here, they were basically tossing everybody's vote from the first time around,” he said. “So say for the Biden [voters], they had four people and all of a sudden they were saying zero in the final alignment. Well, that's not true. They had four people here and they still had four people.” 

The mistake was quickly corrected, but then others in the group began to question whether or not they should know the results of the early voters’ second choice candidates before they made their final choice. 

This was significant for the precinct because it could have determined whether or not the four people voting for Sanders would have changed their vote, depending on whether or not the early votes made Sanders a viable choice.

Precinct chair and precinct secretary adding up early voter totals after the first realignment during the caucus at Wooster High School on Feb. 22 (Joey Lovato/The Nevada Independent)

Precinct chair Alan Jordan, 69, said he personally felt it would have been better that the early votes second choices had been announced before the second alignment, but “[those are] not the rules.” 

Participants in the group seemed disgruntled about the implementation of the early votes and their inability to sway someone’s opinion, had the early voters actually been present. 

“Sure more people showed up for early voting, but your vote might not have gone to the person that you wanted to and you didn't get to influence other people to join your group,” Racis said. “It takes away from the purpose of a caucus and might as well just make it a primary, if that's going to be the case.” 

Elsewhere at the high school, the results of precinct 2025’s votes awarded three delegates, one each to Joe Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar. 

Jess Kitchimgman, 22, was a first-time caucus-goer and was the first to show up at the site. The temporary precinct chair for her precinct asked if she wanted to be the precinct secretary and Kitchimgman was running around her designated precinct area counting voters and helping organize everyone during realignment.

“I think a primary would definitely have a lot more people turn out for it because the caucus kind of makes things unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming.”

Janice Serial, 62, was the site lead at Wooster High School. After most voters had left and the precinct chairs were getting their paperwork together she was helping clean up and answer any questions people still around had.

“I think it went very, very well, given all the barriers we had in the beginning,” she said. “I am hearing from all the temporary caucus chairs, so yes, it went really really well. We had some snafus in logging in, in the beginning only on one when iPad and got that resolved quickly.”

Janice felt that turnout was good considering the number of people that early voted. She was one of the few people interviewed that said she preferred the caucus.

“I'm very old school and I grew up here. I grew up in the era of caucusing and I love everything to be grassroots oriented.”

— Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez and Joey Lovato

5:32 p.m. Previously incarcerated voters caucus in historic African American precincts 

Volunteers at the Doolittle Community Center in North Las Vegas work out delegate math during the state's Democratic presidential caucus on Feb. 22, 2020. (Jana Sayson/The Nevada Independent)

At the Doolittle Community Center in Las Vegas’ historic African American neighborhood, about 70 caucus participants voted for their preferred candidates and volunteers calculated the number of delegates awarded to each — 48 for Sen. Joe Biden, 27 for Sen. Bernie Sanders, 20 for Tom Steyer and 5 for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

The community center was the site for six caucus precincts in the Historic Westside neighborhood, where Las Vegas’ African American population is concentrated. The trend dates back to the city’s history of segregation in which black residents were confined to an area on the west side of the railroad tracks.  

Before the caucus was called to session at noon, one voter — 54-year-old Carmelo Adams — recalled seeing segregation among the city’s neighborhoods when his family moved out of the Westside in 1976. 

“The only black people I knew who lived on that side of Decatur [Boulevard] was us,” Adams said. 

Adams said he has known for the last couple of weeks that he plans to caucus for California billionaire Tom Steyer. 

“All the candidates are talking about the same old things — Medicare for All … none of it is really working. It’s not working for the ones who need it, it’s not working for the ones who don’t need it either,” Adams said. 

Mark Armstrong, left and Carmelo Adams

Adams said that he was incarcerated for 20 years and has been unemployed for 12 years since his release because of difficulties finding a job that will look past his criminal record. 

But Adams is taking advantage of a new law allowing all formerly incarcerated people in the state to vote. When it passed in 2019, the law was expected to affect up to 77,000 Nevadans with some estimates saying that 17,000 formerly incarcerated voters would turn up at the polls.

One of the six precincts at the Doolittle caucus site had zero early voters and zero in-person participants. A second precinct had “first and final” viability, meaning that all of the caucus goers’ candidates met the Nevada Democrats’ viability threshold — 15 percent for most precincts. 

The four remaining precincts had to go through a realignment process, during which community members and campaigners had an opportunity to pitch their candidates if they were viable. Sanders and Steyer’s campaigns each had at least three volunteers available to do so. Biden and Buttigieg both had at least one volunteer from their campaigns present. 

Participants from two of the six precincts lingered after 1:00 p.m. for a second alignment and to make sure delegates were correctly calculated before reporting final caucus results.  

Volunteers at the Doolittle Community Center in North Las Vegas work out delegate math during the state's Democratic presidential caucus on Feb. 22, 2020. (Jana Sayson/The Nevada Independent)

Biden, Sanders and Steyer were awarded delegates from five of the precincts. All five of Buttigieg’s awarded delegates came from a single precinct. 

Mark Armstrong, 53, said his priorities for this election include better education and economic opportunities for the families in his neighborhood and for formerly incarcerated people like his sister. 

He took aim at Buttigieg for “screwing over” black residents in his home community of Indiana. After the police shooting of a black man in South Bend in 2019, some residents faulted Buttigieg, who was mayor until Jan. 2020, for failing to address racial issues between the city’s police and black residents, which have been long standing according to some local activists. 

“When it comes to blacks and racism, he needs to shut his mouth,” Armstrong said. 

Shannon Miller

5:19 p.m. Biden frames himself as comeback kid in Vegas victory rally

Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks after the Nevada Democratic Caucus at IBEW Local 357 on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Former Vice President Joe Biden was jubilant as he took the stage at a Las Vegas union hall, framing the preliminary results of the Nevada caucus as his big comeback and the beginning of him turning the race around in spite of a projected victory in the state by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The only candidate aside from California billionaire Tom Steyer and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to remain in Nevada and make a personal appearance at a victory party on Caucus Day as official results were trickling in, Biden gave a brief speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall alongside his wife Jill. An enthusiastic crowd yelled “first lady!” to his Jill Biden and “comeback kid!” to Joe Biden, who said in his speech that the press liked to declare people dead.

"We're alive and we're coming back and we're going to win,” he said.

Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill greet supporters after the Nevada Democratic Caucus at IBEW Local 357 on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

At the time of the rally, CNN was reporting Biden was in second place in the Nevada contest, after finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire. He promised wins in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday.

“This is an important moment,” Biden said. “We're gonna look back on this and say this was the beginning of the fundamental change.”

He urged his supporters to donate and to “just keep moving,” joking that “we're going to have more help coming from a Vladimir Putin, [who] wants somebody who doesn't think can beat Trump” — a subtle dig at Bernie Sanders. Reports Friday from The Washington Post indicated Sanders was briefed that Russia was trying to help his campaign.

— Michelle Rindels

5 :08 p.m. - Precinct chairs, site leads report some problems but mostly smooth sailing at caucus

A woman holds her voter card during the Nevada Democratic Caucus at East Las Vegas Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Despite fears of a rocky caucus process, seven precinct chairs and site leads told The Nevada Independent Saturday afternoon that they were able to run their caucuses without incident and that a hastily developed iPad-based caucus calculator was easy to use.

The biggest challenge to the integrity of the caucus results appears to be the fact that a list of Democrats who voted early — supposed to be cross-referenced during the check in process to prevent early voting — were delivered late to caucus sites. Some volunteers told the Independent that they either never received the list of early voters or didn’t realize that was the document they had been delivered last minute by party runners Saturday morning.

The party wasn’t immediately able to specify what protocol it has in place to ensure that any double votes are accounted for during the party’s review of the caucus results, and how it would count someone’s vote in the event that they ended up voting twice.

According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, dozens of volunteers — some of them from out of state — worked late into the night at the party’s ballot processing hubs in order to get the 75,000 early votes ready to be transmitted to their home precincts to be counted on Caucus Day. The party had initially promised to send campaigns a list of people who early voted on the fourth and final day of early voting, but campaigns did not receive that list until Saturday morning.

Caucus volunteers also reported issues with reaching a reporting hotline that they were supposed to call into with their results. Some precinct chairs ultimately decided to text in a picture of their results to a number provided by the party — which was supposed to be a secondary verification step — but skipped the caucus reporting step. Others received a backup reporting hotline numbers and were able to call in their results later.

They also reported some confusion among caucusgoers about the realignment process. Non-viable candidates were required to convince additional in-person supporters to join their group in order to become viable, though some were under the impression that early votes could also be used to make their candidate viable.

— Megan Messerly

5:05 p.m. - Culinary Union: next nominee should focus on ‘securing’ healthcare for all without threatening union healthcare plans

The attendees at a Culinary Union event all wearing red shirts
Union members cheer while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the UNITE HERE Culinary Union Town Hall in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The Culinary Workers Local 226 union, which opted not to endorse a presidential candidate but sharply criticized Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all proposal, said in a statement that Democrats need to focus on “securing healthcare for all” while “maintaining a choice for Culinary Union members to keep what we’ve built over the last 85 years.”

The union issued the statement shortly after most media networks called the race for Sanders, who appeared well on his way to winning the state’s 2020 caucus by a double-digit margin, though the vast majority of results have not yet been reported.

“The Democratic Caucus is the first step in defeating Trump on Election Day, and high turnout in the Nevada Caucus is a victory for working people and the democratic process,” union head Geoconda Argüello-Kline said in a statement.

The union made no secret of its distaste of Sanders’ signature healthcare plan, sending flyers to union members last week warning that it could threaten union-negotiated health plans. But Sanders appeared to win most of the Las Vegas strip caucus locations, which were largely attended by Culinary Union members, on Saturday.

The statement also said the next Democratic nominee should focus on winning comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals, ensuring that “One Job Should Be Enough” for every working and defeating Trump in the general election.

— Riley Snyder

4:38 p.m. - Rural caucus goes off smoothly, voters said they feel confident in the process

Voters in Fallon meet to participate in Nevada's Democratic presidential caucus on Feb. 22, 2020 (Tabitha Mueller/The Nevada Independent)

Just more than fifty caucus-goers arrived at Epworth United Methodist Church in Fallon on Saturday morning to participate in Churchill County's caucus. 

Nine precincts were at the site, and despite two precincts' lacking chairs, the caucus process went off smoothly in a county with just 25,000 residents.

Melissa Lattin, 42, was caucusing for the first time and said she switched parties after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

Lattin added that she was not involved with politics until the election, but in a conservative-leaning county, she has received some push-back from friends, neighbors and family members for her political views.

"We don't talk politics in my house; we're a house divided," she said with a laugh.

Although this was her first caucus, Lattin was a precinct captain for Warren, and she said she knocked on roughly 100 doors in preparation for Caucus Day.

"I'm super nervous. I've never caucused before. Everybody here has been super helpful and, it's been so cohesive," she said. "We all want our own person to win, but we're all like, yeah, whoever gets it, we're going to be out there knocking doors for them too."

Caucus-goers who attended the 2016 caucus noted turnout was lower than in the past, which site officials attribute to the new early voting option. 

Everett George, 26, said he chose to caucus instead of early voting so he could have conversations about the candidates.

Voters in Fallon meet to participate in Nevada's Democratic presidential caucus on Feb. 22, 2020 (Tabitha Mueller/The Nevada Independent)

"This is the most participatory way to do it. This is the way that you actually feel more active in doing it," he said. "It's pretty cool to be a part of that. It's pretty cool to see things happening in real-time."

George said he was caucusing for Sanders, who speaks to George's concerns about healthcare, income inequality and a lack of affordable higher education. 

"One of the main reasons why I don't go to college is because it's gonna, put you in debt," he said. "It's nice to have somebody saying that people deserve a break."

During the caucus, voters split into their designated precinct and began discussing candidates. Although there was some initial confusion about the process, the site lead addressed questions, and voters made it through the process relatively quickly.

"I enjoyed it immensely," voter Sylvia Bowles, 71, said. "I got to meet new people from my little town here that I never get to see or interact with and, and listened to their stories too, as well as talk to them about my candidate Pete Buttigieg."

Although Warren was not viable in her precinct, Lattin said she felt confident about the process.

"I don't have anything to compare it to cause this is my first time, but I thought it was run very well," she said. "The guy who was in charge of our precinct really walked us through it. He was very open and like, 'does everybody agree with this?' or, you know, 'are our numbers matching?' So I thought it was fantastic."

Hannah Arthur, said she was comforted by the high participation in early voting and that the caucus this year went more smoothly than the one she attended in 2016.

"I watched the numbers, the calculations. We had somebody on an actual calculator doing the calculations herself and it was lining up with what the app was saying," she said. "So I felt more confident that … my vote is getting counted."

— Tabitha Mueller

4:27 p.m. - Too late to vote at East Las Vegas caucus site

Caucus goers Bertha Ríos and Alfonso Fúnez Vega line up to caucus at East Las Vegas Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

About 150 voters spread out across the East Las Vegas Community Center gym, where 10 precincts met — some large and lively, others small and subdued.

At at least two precincts, people were translating the action into Spanish. In one small group with just 13 people who showed up in person, a man wearing Bernie Sanders gear was translating for Alfonso Fúnez Vega and Bertha Ríos, who acknowledged they needed help understanding the proceedings.

All the precinct’s delegates went to Sanders. That was fine by Vega, 70, and Rios, 74, who had come with the express intent of voting for Sanders.

After many of the attendees had left the venue, Maura Martinez arrived at the community center at about 2:30 p.m., visibly anxious to vote in the caucus. But the El Salvador native got some unexpected news — she had arrived too late.

“They only said that it was going to open at 10 a.m.,” Martinez, 66, said in Spanish. “Why don’t they make the caucus on a Friday, to vote all day? I’m frustrated.”

While she said she had received a lot of advertising from Michael Bloomberg, she was ready to vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She said she liked Sanders for his experience and consistency, especially on health care and immigration.

“If [Sanders] had been allowed to govern for years, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” she said. “Bernie has diplomacy, and he’s a peacemaker. He hasn’t allowed millionaires to direct his campaign.” 

She also lamented that Sanders hadn’t come to the caucus sites, as some of the other candidates did.

“I thought that we were going to see Bernie,” she said. “Why didn’t he come? He had to be where there’s voting.”

CJ Slayton came to the caucus site supporting Pete Buttigieg, while her husband Jim came in backing Amy Klobuchar. But as the couple headed for the door Saturday afternoon, CJ clutching her “Caucus for Pete” sign against the bar of her walker, they left as Elizabeth Warren voters.

“I really would like to have seen him do better,” CJ Slayton, 72, said about Buttigieg — a candidate she says brings a fresh face and new ideas in a field of familiar ones. 

“We've been disappointed before,” Jim added.

At their small precinct in the middle of the noisy community center gym during realignment, CJ and Jim were subject to the earnest pleadings of a Warren supporter, who helped make the case that ultimately changed their mind toward the Massachusetts senator.

“I'm very much opposed to Bernie being the candidate so it was a vote for Warren to help take away some delegates from Bernie,” CJ said.

By the end, it was the site lead that was doing the math at the Slaytons’ precinct — after some problems earlier with the complicated process.

“I was very glad to see somebody different come to our table because the lady had just gotten training in the morning,” she said. “That's one of the weak points that can happen is people that don't know math.”

— Luz Gray and Michelle Rindels

4:05 p.m. Sanders leading at Sparks High School, with results delayed by manual review of precinct after an iPad failure

Volunteers bring boxes of material into Sparks High School to participate in the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus on Feb. 22, 2020. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Campaigns raised questions at a Sparks High School precinct with seven county delegates, prompting a manual review of early votes. 

"There was a failure of the iPad, clearly," said Carissa Snedeker, the site lead and the First Vice Chair for the Washoe Democrats.

Several caucus attendees said that caucus-goers left after the first alignment, and there was confusion over how the early vote was tabulated. After an iPad reported zero realigned caucus-goers in the early vote, it raised further concerns about the results. 

That prompted Snedeker to do a manual review of the early votes. It found that the iPad reporting was inaccurate, Snedeker said.

After the review, the precincts' two viable candidates, Democratic candidate Tom Steyer and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, picked up several early votes. Once the math was re-calculated, Sanders was awarded four county delegates and Steyer picked up three. 

"We got the numbers," she said. "We agreed. Everyone signed off."

According to the preliminary math, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders picked up at least half of the 13 precincts at Sparks High School. 

The competition was largely over runner-up, and several candidates placed in second at certain precincts, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Steyer and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

— Daniel Rothberg

3:59 p.m. - Nevada Republicans bind delegates to Trump

President Donald Trump reacts to the audience during a rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

With almost no results in the Democratic presidential caucus reported, Nevada Republicans made it easy — voting to allocate all of the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention to incumbent President Donald Trump.

The party’s central committee voted by acclamation — meaning by voice vote, and without an individual ballot — to unanimously allocate all of the state’s delegates to Trump during its winter meeting in Pahrump on Saturday afternoon.

The party adopted a rule change last year to create a process giving all delegates to the incumbent president, avoiding a mass presidential preference caucus. “Our vote by acclamation to endorse the President and bind our delegates to him sends a strong, unified message that we are ready to fight and deliver our state for President Trump against whichever socialist the other side nominates,” state party chair Michael McDonald said in an email.

2:51 p.m. - At Coronado High School precinct, caucus calculator functions without hitch

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to voters outside of Coronado High School during Nevada's Democratic caucus on Feb. 22, 2020(Jacob Solis/The Nevada Independent)

At precinct 1608, the much-fretted over introduction of the Google Forms-based caucus calculator went off without issue. Precinct chair Ruben Murillo, a former teachers’ union leader, told The Nevada Independent that he was pleased with the training he received from the state’s Democratic party and said that “what they said was going to happen, happened.”

“This is my third caucus, and this one, top of the three,” Murillo said. “But I hope we don’t have any more caucuses, I hope this is the last one.”

And among the voters in the room, several said they were impressed with the speed of the process — though they would still prefer a primary over a caucus. 

“It turned out wonderful,” voter Carol Tipton said. “All of our apps worked, when we needed the numbers they were there for us, we were able to go onto the next step without any problems at all. When you come to caucus, you know you have to give time. We were here several hours, but that’s what a caucus is.”

Proceedings were only briefly delayed after there was some confusion regarding how those in the only non-viable group — a gaggle of eight Warren supporters — could redistribute themselves, and whether or not they would be able to become viable after realignment from early vote tallies. 

Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg supporters had formed the only three large, viable groups in the room, and even with the support of some early voters, that handful Warren supporters were the only free votes heading into the second alignment. But most of them, six of the eight, didn’t budge — leading to a prolonged debate among those in the room about just who gets to benefit from realignment.

The discussion finally settled after a site lead confirmed that the Warren voters could remain in their group “as if they had left the room.” It was a moot point, however, as Warren gained no support on realignment, with Biden taking the precinct (45 votes and four delegates), while Buttigieg (35 votes, three delegates) and Sanders (33 votes, three delegates) were left virtually tied. 

Still, a Warren precinct captain, Sharon Downes, said she remained hopeful that Warren would still do well in Nevada and beyond. 

“I think we’re going to see different results for Warren, especially since the debate was such bad timing,” she said. “If we would have had them debate before the early voting, I think she would have had more votes in this caucus, I really do.”

This was all despite a last-minute visit from Warren herself, who briefly swung by Coronado with a box of Dunkin’ donuts in tow. Following a number of selfies with volunteers or voters decked out in the seafoam green of the Warren campaign, the Massachusetts senator thanked those in the check-in line, saying of democracy that “that’s what this is all about.”

— Jacob Solis

2:15 p.m. — Biden collects most delegates at Paris casino site; Steyer hangs on to viability

Casino workers participate in the Nevada Democratic caucus inside the Vendome Ballroom at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Tom Steyer seemed in a bind during the first alignment period at a Paris casino-resort caucus site Saturday afternoon.

He had six supporters sitting in his section, but needed eight people to hit the 15 percent needed to remain viable at this Las Vegas Strip site, where 54 shift workers donning work uniforms participated in the Democratic presidential caucus. 

Four undecided voters stood in the middle of the Parisian-themed ballroom as the 15-minute first alignment period dwindled. Then, as the deadline approached, three of them grabbed seats in the Steyer section, along with one other caucus-goer, pushing the California billionaire and activist into viability. 

In the end, former vice president Joe Biden won 14 delegates for the county convention at this caucus site, followed by seven delegates for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, six for former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and six for Steyer. The site had 33 delegates total to award.

Treniece Parks, a call center employee at Bally’s hotel and casino, was one of the undecided voters who tipped the scales for Steyer. The 58-year-old arrived only knowing that she didn’t want to cast a vote for Biden or Sanders. 

“I had never heard of him,” Parks said, referring to Steyer.

But she found herself in his section after hearing a few things about him and realizing he was on the threshold of viability. This was her first time caucusing, and Parks said she expected to receive more information from campaign volunteers at the site.

Still, Parks expressed satisfaction with her last-minute choice.

“We don’t need Social Security taken away,” she said. “We don’t need our insurance taken away.”

Rochelle Schneider does math as casino workers participate in the Nevada Democratic caucus inside the Vendome Ballroom at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Others entered the site with a clear candidate in mind. Yosbel Mora, a Culinary Union member and a houseperson at Paris, came in knowing he’d caucus for Biden because “he was Obama’s vice president.”

But the casino caucus site also drew at least two tourists who chose the Democratic nominating process as their entertainment for the afternoon. Pamela Madeiros and Brent Bogardus — both from upstate New York — came to Las Vegas for a wedding earlier in the week but decided to see what a caucus looks like firsthand as observers.

New York will hold its primary election on April 28.

Madeiros, a Democrat, didn’t have any predictions about who would emerge victorious in Nevada.

“I don’t know,” she said. “That’s why we’re so anxious to kind of see what the fever is.”

While Biden emerged the victor at this site, it’s only a small sampling of Nevada caucus participants. The Paris casino-resort — one of several Las Vegas Strip caucus sites — was open to casino workers in a 2.5-mile radius.

Casino workers check in to participate in the Nevada Democratic caucus inside the Vendome Ballroom at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

But the Paris was an outlier compared to other Strip casino-resorts. Sanders was reported to have won the most delegates at the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Park MGM, Rio and Wynn, and tied at Harrah’s.

As the caucus-goers grabbed boxed lunches before heading back to work, Rep. Dina Titus thanked them for their participation. 

“This is really democracy in action,” she said. “It means a lot to have you participating.”

— Jackie Valley

1:13 p.m. - Buttigieg makes final pitch at Sierra Vista High School

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to a voter outside of Sierra Vista High School on Feb. 22, 2020 (Kristyn Leonard/The Nevada Independent)

At Sierra Vista High School, volunteers for Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren waited out front with umbrellas, welcoming voters in as they rushed in out of the rain.

When the sun finally came out, voters and volunteers were joined by some welcome guests— girl scouts selling cookies, and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. 

As Buttigieg entered the courtyard of the high school, voters crowded the candidate and cheered him on, one caucus-goer shouting “Go Hoosiers!” as he walked by.

The former South Bend Mayor spent the next 15 minutes walking through the school, greeting voters from various precincts as he made his way through the halls, the theater, and the school gym. His visit seemed to lift spirits in the school, where many voters were uncertain about how the process would work out.

Volunteers had let voters wait inside before 10:00 a.m. to keep them out of the rain, letting 10-20 people at a time into the lobby of the school’s theater to check in. The process ran smoothly as volunteers separated voters into “already registered” and “need to register” lines, checked them in, and sent them on their way with directions to their precinct’s room.

Carla Brown, 34, was there to caucus for Elizabeth Warren. She was unable to participate in early voting but knew she had to participate in the caucus today so she could, “get a say in who is going to lead.”

Fellow caucus-goer Kelly James had the chance to early vote, but chose to caucus today because she had never done it before.

“I’m actually from Iowa, so, yeah, I grew up with my parents going to the caucus,” said James. “I’m really excited to see the process play out and how this works.”

James was also excited to be able to meet Pete Buttigieg, who she says is her second choice candidate today behind Amy Klobuchar.

James admitted she hadn’t looked up any materials or attended any trainings before the day of the caucus.

“I’m here winging it,” she said. 

—Kristyn Leonard

12:30 p.m. - Thousands of volunteers turn out on caucus day

Casino workers check in to participate in the Nevada Democratic caucus inside the Vendome Ballroom at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

The Nevada State Democratic Party announced that about 2,000 volunteers had shown up to caucus sites around the state, with an average of 8 volunteers at each site.

The announcement comes amid some media reports that volunteers are not showing up on caucus day and that the party may need campaign volunteers to help staff various caucus sites.

Party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said it was “common and not unusual” for campaign volunteers to help with running precincts, and that similar arrangements happened in 2008 and 2016.

Two campaign aides, who asked not to be identified, said they were not concerned about volunteer turnout and that it was “pretty run of the mill.”

12:22 p.m. - Sanders dominates with young voters, Latinos in entrance poll

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally at Springs Preserve on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Nevada’s 2020 presidential caucus is finally underway, and an entrance poll shows Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with massive leads among young and Latino voters.

The entrance poll, which was conducted by Edison Media Research and polled of 2,122 voters (primarily early voters) and released after the start of the caucus, shows Sanders with support of 51 percent of Hispanic voters, far above former Vice President Joe Biden at 13 percent.

Sanders also led with white voters (31 percent) over former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (18 percent) and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (13 percent). Biden led with black voters (36 percent) followed by Sanders (25 percent), California billionaire Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (both at 13 percent). 

Among voters over 45 years old, Biden and Sanders both obtained roughly 20 percent in the entrance poll, followed by Buttigieg (16 percent) and Klobuchar (15 percent). 

But among voters under 45, Sanders dominated — an estimated 60 percent of the vote, distantly followed by Buttigieg (13 percent) and Warren (11 percent). 

11:16 a.m. - Julian Castro, bilingual staffers and rain gear at East Las Vegas caucus site

Caucus goers stand in line at East Las Vegas Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

A steady rain didn’t deter about 80 voters who were either in line or waiting for the caucus to begin about half an hour after the East Las Vegas Community Center voting site opened.

Pink and red umbrellas from poncho-wearing campaign representatives standing outside added a pop of color to the gray day. The center, in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, is the meeting place for 10 precincts and staffers were shouting out directions in both English and Spanish.

“I think people are really excited,” said site lead Christina Lopez. “We don't really have a fair estimate of what to expect today because we have that unprecedented number of early votes.”

Lopez said early voting materials and sufficient iPads had arrived at the site in time, but that with not enough people, some volunteers would be leading the caucus process for multiple precincts. Volunteers will be using a new process of transmitting results to the party after the state scrapped its initial app-based plan following an app debacle in the Iowa caucuses.

“I do think that there was plenty of training available, whether volunteers took advantage of that I think is up to them,” Lopez said. “But I do think that we have a really talented team here today and you know, they're only going to send the best to a site that does large as this one.”

The line didn’t extend outside into the drizzle, but those waiting got a surprise when former presidential candidate and Elizabeth Warren surrogate Julian Castro — wearing a blue suit and a green tie in the mint green of Warren’s campaign signs — started mingling with the attendees and taking selfies.

The site also attracted Eleni Kounalakis, California’s Democratic lieutenant governor.

Seventy-two-year-old Margarita Lemus, a retired casino worker, came in spite of the rain.

“As they say in English, ‘I must do it,’” she said about her decision to come out. 

Lemus, who planned to caucus for Sen. Bernie Sanders, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar as alternate choices.

“In general I like to support the women,” said Lemus, who is originally from Colombia and has lived in Las Vegas for 38 years. “We have to move forward.”

She’s been troubled by the constant changes in immigration policy under the Trump administration.

“The situation is heavy, it’s very hard for us Latinos,” she said. “We have to unite and I want them to treat us like we deserve.”

— Michelle Rindels and Luz Gray

10:48 a.m. — Sparks High School

Voters line up outside of Sparks High School to participate in the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus on Feb. 22, 2020. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

A few dozen caucus-goers lined up at Sparks High School before 10 a.m., a smaller group than in 2016 likely due to this year’s early voting option, according to one organizer. 

Once the doors opened, caucus-goers checked in with volunteers and were separated into 13 precincts, some in the gym and some sent to classrooms in the school.

Mike Stowell, wearing a bright green Mt. Rushmore cap and t-shirt touting his support for Vice President Joe Biden, said he wants to see a candidate with experience and who was willing to work together on tough political issues.

“Some of the others are my way or the highway, and that does not work,” said Stowell, whose family came to Nevada in the 1800s with gold mining and homesteading. 

As voters waited for the caucus to begin, a caucus observer for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said that he wanted a candidate who advocated for structural change. 

Jonathan Gage Copenhaver, who moved to Nevada three years ago from San Francisco, said he was particularly concerned about the pervasiveness of big money in politics. 

“For me, it’s about getting corporate money out of democracy,” he said. 

— Daniel Rothberg

More than 10,000 register as Democrats to early vote, party announces

Paperwork as seen during the Nevada Democratic caucus inside the Vendome Ballroom at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Shortly before lines were scheduled to open on Saturday, the Nevada State Democratic Party announced that more 10,000 voters registered with the party during a four-day early voting period prior to the caucus.

The party saw more than 75,000 people turn out and cast a ballot during the early vote period between Feb. 15 and 18. Participating in the caucus requires a voter to be a registered Democrat, but the party allows on-site party registration for anyone who shows up to participate.

“With more than 10,000 Nevadans newly registering as Democrats during early voting, it’s clear that we are bringing a wave of new voters into our party and building a growing coalition who will mobilize for our nominee in November,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II said in a statement.

The new registrations will bolster the party’s advantage in registered voters over Republicans. As of January 2020, roughly 611,000 voters in the state were registered Democrats, compared to 527,600 Republicans — about a 5 percent difference.


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