As the Democratic presidential campaign enters the final 100 days before Nevada’s caucuses, a handful of reforms adopted after the 2016 presidential race have created new challenges for candidates and the state’s Democratic party.
Nevada holds the third contest of the Democratic caucuses, and is a crucial test of candidates’ support among Hispanics, Asian Americans and the state’s powerful labor unions. This year, Nevada Democrats have raced to vet and secure more than 70 locations to host four new days of early voting.
To address complaints of ill-prepared precinct chairs in 2016, the party is erecting an hours-long curriculum online for the thousands of volunteers they need to muster. And with precincts now fielding both in-person and early vote tallies, Democrats are finalizing software contracted to tabulate the results with a paper trail.
“There was a training program in 2016. However, as we’ve noted, so much has changed throughout our process. And what that has meant for us is that we’ve had to build this up from scratch,” Shelby Wiltz, the state party’s caucus director, tells CBS News.
Projected expenses to run the contest this cycle have ballooned up from 1.7 to more than 2.2 million dollars.
“I know the whole country’s going to be watching because we are the first caucus state to offer early voting,” Clark County Democrats Chair Donna West tells CBS News.
“This is again Nevada leading on something, and we really want to make this work, and show that we can caucus as a party and still be expansive and inclusive,” adds West.
Many of these reforms come at the behest of the Democratic National Committee. After the bitter 2016 primary fight, the party convened a “Unity Reform Commission” to identify ways to reform the nominating race. The national party has urged states to abandon caucuses in favor of a straightforward primary. But Nevada has kept its caucuses, which are famous for their eccentric and byzantine rules, while agreeing to change some aspects of its nominating process.
Some of these changes to the “first in the West” contest this cycle, like a nascent attempt to develop an option