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Feb. 22, 2020, 4:37 p.m. EST

Voting underway as Nevada Democrats weigh in on 2020 fight

There are questions about when results from Saturday’s voting might be released under the complicated new caucus reporting process

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By Associated Press


AP
Volunteers for various campaigns talk to voters as they enter a presidential caucus site at Mendive Middle School in Sparks, Nev., on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

Voting is underway across Nevada as the most diverse state so far has its say in the Democrats’ nomination fight.

Yet there were questions about when results from Saturday’s voting might be released under the complicated new caucus reporting process.

Just before polls opened at noon PST, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez wouldn’t commit to a timeline.

“Our goal is to get results as soon as possible,” Perez sad. “But also, first and foremost, to get it right.”

Undismayed by logistics, hundreds of uniformed housekeepers and casino workers streamed into the Bellagio, one of seven casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip among 200 locations statewide hosting caucuses. Nevada is the third contest on a 2020 election calendar marked by chaos and uncertainty after the opening votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, overwhelmingly white, rural states.

The first presidential contest in the West is testing the candidates’ strength with black and Latino voters for the first time in 2020.

“Nevada represents an opportunity for these candidates to demonstrate their appeal to a larger swath of our country,” said state Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat who is not endorsing a candidate.

Nevada’s population aligns more with the U.S. as a whole, compared with Iowa and New Hampshire: 29% Latino, 10% black and 9% Asian American and Pacific Islander.

Self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has emerged as the front-runner in the race so far as a half-dozen more-moderate candidates criticize one another. Each wants to be the preferred alternative to the Vermont senator in the race to take on President Donald Trump in November.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a moderate who has struggled with minority voters, was already playing down the caucuses and looking past Nevada.

“This is a big day. We’re excited. But it is the beginning of the next chapter in our campaign, and this chapter is going to be really fast-moving because we have so many states that we’re going to be covering, and so many events,” she told volunteers at her Las Vegas campaign headquarters.

The vote comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. As the Democrats struggle to find a candidate who can beat Trump, new concerns have surfaced about foreign interference in the 2020 contest.

Sanders confirmed reports that he had been briefed by U.S. officials about a month ago that Russia was trying to help his campaign as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the election.

“It was not clear what role they were going to play,” Sanders said. “We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign.”

He added: “Here’s the message to Russia: Stay out of American elections.”

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