Harry Reid Calls For Democratic Party To Move To Primaries Everywhere — Including Nevada

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called on his home state of Nevada to switch from the complicated caucus system to a presidential primary, and endorsed the Western state to become the first in the nation to vote.

The Democrat’s remarks on Sunday came a day after Nevada held its caucuses, the first state in the West and the third overall to hold a presidential contest in the primary cycle. The state ― which has a significant Latinx population and organized labor presence ― overwhelmingly went to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“With so much Democratic enthusiasm in Nevada, demonstrated again by the tremendous caucus turnout this year, I believe we should make the process of selecting our nominee even more accessible,” Reid said in a statement. “We’ve made it easier for people to register to vote here in Nevada in recent years and now we should make it easier for people to vote in the presidential contests. That’s why I believe it’s time for the Democratic Party to move to primaries everywhere.”

The Nevada Democratic Party did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on whether it would consider switching to a primary system.

In primaries, voters cast a single ballot with the winner determined by who receives the most votes. In caucuses, the state awards county convention delegates to viable candidates, which in turn determines how many national pledged delegates each candidate will receive.

In the first alignment of a caucus, participants gather in groups based on which candidate they support. Usually, candidates need at least 15% of caucusgoers at each precinct in order to be viable. Those who choose a viable candidate in the first alignment cannot change their preference in the final alignment, while those in nonviable groups can either switch groups or refuse to commit.

The Nevada caucuses saw a high turnout and went significantly smoother than the first caucuses of the presidential primary cycle in Iowa. Aside from the murky problems with a digital app that volunteers needed to use to upload their final results, the Midwestern state’s contest experienced issues that will almost always come with caucusing: final delegate counts that were rounded up or down and led to strange-appearing count ties; ties that were resolved by coin flips (or in Nevada’s case, card draws); delegate apportionments that disproportionately favored less-populated rural areas over younger, more populated metropolitan regions; and obvious difficulties attending for disabled people, parents who could not schedule or afford child care, and people working abnormal hours.

The Iowa Democratic Party is still recounting votes from 10 precincts after the apparent leaders in that race ― Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg ― both requested limited recounts. Buttigieg’s campaign sent a letter on Saturday to the Nevada Democratic Party alleging “errors” and “inconsistencies” in the vote-counting process behind the caucuses.

In Nevada, Buttigieg came in third after much stronger finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, two predominantly white states. Many people like former Housing Secretary and 2020 candidate Julián Castro have called for having a more diverse state serve as the first in the country to hold a presidential contest. 

Reid, who as senator was integral in pushing the Democratic National Committee to pick Nevada as the third early state, joined those calls on Sunday by offering up Nevada as the first-in-the-nation state.

“I’m glad to have fought to make Nevada the first Western state in the Democratic nominating process since 2008, and we have proven more than worthy of holding that prominent early state position,” Reid said. “I firmly believe that Nevada, with our broad diversity that truly reflects the rest of the country, should not just be among the early states ― we should be the first in the nation.”

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