Government students from Churchill County High School learned more about Nevada’s caucus process on Wednesday as Republican and Democrat representatives explained the procedures for selecting a presidential nominee.
“Ninety-nine percent of Americans don’t know what a caucus is,” said District 38 Assemblywoman Robin Titus, who spoke first. “Only two (political) parties are involved with a caucus primarily because we have a two-party system.”
The Democrats will assemble for the caucus on Feb. 20 at the Wolf Center behind Epworth United Methodist Church, and the Republicans will conduct their caucus on Feb. 23 at the fairgrounds. Although the caucus is foreign to most people including high-school seniors, Titus said the worse thing individuals could do is nothing.
“I want to energize you and get you involved,” said Titus, a Smith Valley physician. “I became involved with politics because of (Sen.) Harry Reid and Obamacare. To make a difference, I got involved.”
Titus said individuals who attend a caucus support a particular candidate and help select issues for the national platform. Nevada’s caucus, which has been billed as First in the West, sets a tone to allow top candidates to go forward and raise more campaign funds.
Additionally, Titus said a caucus is where neighbors and friends assemble in precincts based on their residence and discuss politics, elect delegates to the county convention and cast votes for a particular candidate.
Republicans, who must register at least 10 days before the caucus, are allowed to attend a caucus, vote for their candidate and then leave; however, Titus said a caucus becomes more interesting when attendees discuss their candidates and issues.
“Everyone who shows up to a caucus can have input,” she added.
Members of the Churchill County Democrats explained how their caucus works. Chairwoman Nyla Howell said individuals sign in on Feb. 20 according to the precinct in which they live. Howells said each of the 19 precincts have a temporary chairperson. She said each precinct will discuss the three candidates who are running for their party’s nomination.
Howell said she is expecting about 400-500 voters to show up for this year’s caucus. In 2008 when Hillary Clinton, John Edward and Barack Obama — among others — were campaigning, the caucus drew about 1,200 people. In 2012, only 80 people showed up because Obama was running for re-election. She said caucus attendees keep moving around until they can form a viable group. Compared to the Republicans, attendees don’t leave after casting their votes. Afterward, she said a specific number of delegates are selected to the county convention.
Larry Jackson, vice chair, said it is a privilege to vote and offer suggestions.
“Whether you support or are against an issue, the information is passed onto the county convention,” he added.
Titus said each party has a wide choice of candidates running for president. She encourages students to discover their interests and then find out where each candidate stands on the issues.