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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

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Despite the distraction, Sanders was confident about Nevada. He has strong support from Latinos and rank-and-file union workers who have warmed to his calls to transform the nation’s economy and political system to help the working class.

There was skepticism about Pete Buttigieg’s ability to win over a more diverse set of voters after strong finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Joe Biden, who struggled in those early states, looked to Nevada’s voters of color to prove he still has a viable path to the nomination.

Elizabeth Warren and Klobuchar were fighting for momentum, hoping to benefit from a sudden surge of outside money from newly created super PACs.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who dominated the political conversation this week after a poor debate-stage debut, wasn’t on the ballot. He’s betting everything on a series of delegate-rich states that begin voting next month.

Billionaire Tom Steyer spent more than $12 million of his own money on television advertising in Nevada, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.

The caucuses were the first since technical glitches and human errors plagued Iowa’s caucuses. Nearly three weeks later, state Democratic officials have yet to post final results.

Party Chairman Perez said a number of factors, including early voting and potentially high turnout, could affect the tabulation and timing of results. In addition, Nevada, like Iowa, reports three sets of data from the multistage caucus process.

On Friday, party leaders issued a memo clarifying that, while caucus leaders can still use an online form to submit results from individual precincts, they should use a dedicated hotline to call and text in results as their primary form of reporting.

In Iowa, overwhelmed phone lines caused caucus leaders to wait on hold for hours, contributing to the delay in reporting the results. Nevada Democrats brought in extra help from other state parties to help handle the reporting Saturday night.

Early voting is likely to pose another challenge.

State party officials said that 74,611 ballots were cast during the four-day early voting period, and a majority were first-time caucus-goers. In 2016, a total of 84,000 Nevada voters participated in the Democratic caucuses.

A small, but significant number of the ballots cast early were disqualified.

Of the early ballots cast, 1,744, or 2.3 percent, were voided. The vast majority were voided due to a lack of signature, according to the party. Of those that were voided, 250 ballots were voided for not filling out all three selections as required, the party said.

At the Bellagio caucus site, 41-year-old Christian Nielsen, a scuba diver for the Cirque du Soleil show “O,” said he’s backing Sanders because he believes the country needs a “major change in the White House.”

“We need somebody in the White House who has been on the right side of history for their entire career, somebody who stands with the working class, and will make things more fair for everybody,” Nielsen said.

He said he tried to vote early but the line was three hours long. He said the sign-in process at the Bellagio was quick and painless.

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