RENO, NV - After watching all the debates and contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida, it’s finally Nevada’s turn in the political spotlight. Our moment will be brief, but at least 50,000 Nevada Republicans are expected to show up at caucus locations around the state Saturday and make their choices.
For first-time participants it can be confusing. A caucus is not a primary. The government's election apparatus plays no part. It is organized and run by the political parties.
By definition it is a meeting of local members of a national party with two major functions, selecting delegates to a convention and registering preference for candidates. Both will be addressed at this Saturday's caucus, but all the attention will be on that second duty. It's called a presidential preference poll.
Unlike the Democrats, Republican officials rejected the idea of same-day registration, so, in order to take part, you must have been a registered Republican by January 20th.
You don't have to be pre-registered for the caucus itself, but party officials wish you would. It will cut down on lines and waiting and speed the process. You can pre-register by logging on to your county party’s website. Here in Washoe County, it's www.washoecountygop.org.
Pre-registration closes Thursday at 5 p.m.
The schedules and other details vary from county to county, but here in Washoe registration begins at Saturday morning at 9, the caucus at 10.
Once it starts you can fill out a ballot and leave, but if you do you'll miss the debate as supporters try to convince their neighbors to vote for their guy.
At the end of it all, you'll cast a ballot. Each precinct captain will collect and count them, report to the county party and state officials will sum up the totals and release the numbers.
If it seems this is happening later than four years ago, you're right. Explaining why is a complicated tale that begins with Florida jumping into the early schedule against party rules and ends with Nevada taking the 5th rather than the 3rd spot on the calendar.
That's meant less attention and money for Nevada, but as it's worked out, party officials point out, we still have a race and the state remains relevant.
If you stay through the caucus you’ll know how your location voted before you leave. The county by county results will be released around 5 o’clock for all counties but Clark.
That leads us to one final late change.
After casino owner Sheldon Adelson pointed out a Saturday caucus potentially disenfranchised observant Orthodox Jews and Seventh Day Adventists.
A special after-sundown caucus was added in Las Vegas. It won’t start until 7 pm and no Clark County returns—representing roughly half the state’s Republicans—will be released until it’s completed.
Final results may not be in until 9 o’clock.
You’ll find additional information on our political page and you’ll be able to follow the process Saturday here on this web channel