Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008 | 12:13 p.m.
Phones are ringing ceaselessly at the Cashman Center, where the Nevada Democratic Party has set up its headquarters. Two banks of hotlines are set up behind curtains -- one for caucus goers with last minute questions, the other for volunteers leading the caucus at the sites around the state. About 100 volunteers are taking calls one after the other.
One of the phone bank volunteers said turnout appears to be unexpectedly high at locations around the state. Sites are running out of presidential preference cards and voter registration forms. At one site in Reno the fire marshal came after more than 200 people arrived at a community center with a capacity of 85, the volunteer said. The volunteer said supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton placed signs for the candidate on all the chairs at another location, a move that some people felt was intimidating. "We had to tell them to take them down," the volunteer said.
Another volunteer said there was chaos last night because so many volunteers at the various sites did not pick up information packets they needed to run the caucus. Some packets had to be delivered to the sites from headquarters last night.
In the same curtained off area, the results will be phoned in and tabulated, probably starting around 12:30 p.m. Results could be announce about two hours later, amid a backdrop of "Winning in the West" banners that frame the main stage.
Kirsten Searer, spokeswoman for the Nevada Democratic Party, acknowledged that there has been confusion this morning at many of the caucus sites, but she smiled and added, "there's high turnout - that's good news."
The Party has 100 help lines set up to guide site volunteers through the the process, and while they were ringing off the hook until about 11:45 a.m. the calls are now dying down.
Searer said the confusion could delay the process some, but there is wiggle room in the schedule between 11:30 a.m. and noon.
It's a process run by volunteers, and though they were trained well everyone is caucusing for the first time, she said.
"This is our first time out of the gate," Searer said.