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September 16, 2014

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2008 Elections

Caucus 101

Here's a quick rundown of the caucus process and what to expect from each party on Jan. 19.

The first thing you need to know about the caucus is that the process is very different between Democrats and Republicans.

If you like to give your opinion, chat to people or even try to sway them to your way of thinking, you might like the procedure used by the Democratic party.

If you're more private about your leanings and don't have a lot of time, the Republican process might be more to your liking.


Democrats

520 sites (about 75 percent schools, some churches, some community centers.) Find your caucus location here.

Registration: At 11 a.m., voters start arriving. They go to a check-in table, where volunteers look at registered voter rolls to see if they are a registered Democratic voter. If they aren't, they can register on the spot to participate in the caucus.

If they are a Republican or belong to another party or are unaffiliated, they can switch party affiliations on the spot and become a Democrat.

Caucus begins: At 11:30 a.m., the number of voters is counted and a decision is made how many voters it will take to win at least one delegate. The caucuses begin and the voters break into groups, representing particular candidates. If the candidate group does not meet the threshold to win at least one delegate, then voters can break off and join other groups.

Some people might like the process of persuading others to join them. Some might not like the idea of being cajoled, or even bullied, into joining particular groups. Kirsten Searer, deputy executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party, said caucus volunteers will try to keep order in case there become some heated moments.

"If they feel like someone is being intimidated, they will step in," said Searer, of the nearly 2,000 recruited volunteers. "But for the most part, it's just good clean fun."

Estimated time needed: Searer predicted the Democratic caucuses would probably take between one hour and two hours, with the process ending by 1 p.m.


Republicans

100 sites, including about 25 in Clark County. Find your caucus location here.

"The Republican caucuses are nothing like the Democratic caucuses," said Hans Gullickson, Republican state caucus director. There is no clustering. No one knows how you voted, unless you tell them — voting machines will be rented out for the process. And the process is open only to Republicans.

Registration: At 9 a.m., voters can start arriving. At a check-in table, volunteers verify that they are registered Republicans. You cannot register at the caucus. If you didn't registered as a Republican by Dec. 20, you can't participate, Gullickson said.

Organization: Shortly after that, voters elect a caucus chairman and a secretary. Paper ballots are used to select the delegates and alternates who will be attending the state party convention. None of the delegates is bound to any candidate, once elected, he said. However, most of them declare support for one of the candidates.

Presidential poll: After the delegates are picked, using paper ballots, voters are encouraged to vote in a straw poll, using voting machines.

Estimated time needed: Gullickson said it would probably be over in 30 to 45 minutes.


Dave Toplikar, New Media Managing Editor

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