Changing the Nevada caucus to a presidential primary

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - At the end of caucus day, volunteers can feel a sense of relief, and participants can feel they've had their say on the presidential candidates.

The line for early caucus voting at the Nevada Democratic headquarters on Feb. 18, 2020.

But what you often hear then, and a couple of days after is; why can't we have a presidential primary?

With mistakes in Iowa's caucus, and extra pressure on Nevada's Democrats to pull off a caucus, this year we may be closer to an answer.

And that answer could be yes.

Former U.S. Senator Harry Reid said this week, he wants to make selecting a democratic nominee even more accessible, and added: "...it's time for the Democratic Party to move to primaries everywhere."

Nevada's Governor Steve Sisolak said after this weekend's caucus he intended to work with: "...leaders in the State Senate and Assembly to review how we could switch to an early presidential primary."

But such a move would require more than just a flip of the switch.

“A caucus is run by the parties and they do incur the cost of running those caucuses,” says Deanna Spikula, Washoe County Registrar of Voters.

Because of the cost involved, both Republican and Democratic primaries would most likely be run at the same time.

Spikula says her office and all the other registrars across the state would take their direction from Nevada's Legislature who would have to set up laws and guidelines as to what a state presidential primary would look like.

Such laws would address when the primary would take place:

Would it be on just one day?
Or would there be early voting?
Could it be mail in only?
Open or closed primary?
And would the presidential primary stand alone or be hooked in with our primary which takes place in June?

“Held on the primary date in June, with what we have now, then yes, it would eliminate that potential for the "First in the West,” says Spikula.

Lawmakers could allot money to the primary, or the counties would have to come up with the funding themselves. Those counties would have to abide by state law including auditing of machines, trained personnel, and a canvass of the vote to ensure accuracy.

Before lawmakers take up this issue, they have to first determine if changing our state’s caucus to a presidential primary would change our “First in the West” status.

If the answer is yes, there may be no appetite to get rid of the caucus.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020