On Monday, Nevada Democrats took action to change their presidential nominating system from a caucus to a primary. Legislation introduced in the Assembly would change the format of Nevada presidential nominating contests, potentially pushing it to be the first primary in the country.
Politico reported that this is “a move former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threw his support behind immediately following last year’s caucuses.”
Last year, the Democratic presidential nominating process was under intense examination after the Iowa caucuses had technical difficulties and reporting of the votes was delayed. The Associated Press never called a winner in the contest due to calculation problems.
Iowa and New Hampshire have traditionally been the first states to hold their primaries. According to Politico, however, the two states were also criticized by Democrats who said they are not “demographically representative of the country. The populations of both states are predominately white, unlike Nevada which is more diverse.”
In a prepared statement, Jason Frierson, the Nevada Assembly speaker, commented on the new legislation. He said it “will lay the groundwork for Nevada to become the first state in the nation in the presidential nominating process…Nevada’s diverse population and first-hand experience in issues relating to climate change, public lands, immigration, and health care provide a unique voice that deserves to be heard first.”
William McCurdy, chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, released a statement regarding the new legislation on Monday, saying, “Expanding access to the presidential nominating process in Nevada is something NV Dems have worked on for many years,” noting the efforts of Democrats last year to make the caucuses more accessible. He states, however, that “the only way we can bring more voices into the process is by moving to a primary.”
The statement explains the specifics of the new voting process:
This legislation changes Nevada’s presidential nominating process from a caucus system to a primary separate from the June down-ballot primary and includes ten days of early voting and same-day voter registration. It moves the date of the primary to the second to last Tuesday in January making Nevada the first in the nation presidential nominating state.
New Hampshire is expected to challenge Nevada’s efforts to hold its nominating contest first. New Hampshire state law says that its primary must occur at least seven days before a “similar election” in any other state. Bill Gardner, the state’s secretary of state, has reportedly made many efforts to successfully keep New Hampshire first in line for decades.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and other Democrats reportedly support the switch from caucus to primary. Reid has also been reported to be “leaning on his relationship with President Joe Biden and his administration and arguing his state is more representative of the country.”
If Nevada does away with its caucus, the few remaining states to hold caucuses instead of primaries would be Iowa, North Dakota, Wyoming, Kentucky (Republican only), with U.S. territory caucuses occurring in American Samoa, The U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.