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Nevada Caucus: An unwanted memory
by Larry Wilson - Opinion columnist
Jan 22, 2008 | 652 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Well, it’s over. Nevada has officially been caucused. Some people are feeling that being caucused ought to be against the law, punishable by God knows what. By all accounts it was definitely an experience that some feel should be instantly forgotten.

Although well thought out and countless trainings for volunteers to be able to run the event smoothly, the process still had numerous snags in the application that some people feel spell the death knell for the possibility for a return engagement.

A prominent state legislator said that to hold a regular voter primary using our new-fangled voting machines would be too costly for the state to conduct with its budget shortfalls and all. Each of the two major political parties paid out millions of dollars for the cost of the caucus process as it now exists. I’m sure if we went to a voting machine primary the costs would be covered by the parties as well.

Another major complaint that should be duly noted is that in the caucus process, a person must divulge publicly their preference as to which candidate they prefer to be in the running to be our next president. In other words, we normally have a secret ballot in any kind of a voting process. That is a luxury that a caucus, by the nature of the beast, does not afford.

In all fairness, the Republicans did have a paper ballot that was deposited and later were counted. The Democrats had a type of group gathering and counted noses in lieu of the paper secret-type ballot.

Both parties were rather overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that turned out to caucus. On the Democratic side, one precinct was to select four delegates to the county convention. It was thought that they might get nine people from that precinct for each delegate to be chosen.

In reality, instead of 36 expected participants, 55 participants arrived. In all estimates, that kind of a turnout is great for all the parties, but it was a little overwhelming and of course, there is always that percentage of participants, although they never volunteer to help with any process, that are always ready to sit back and criticize how the process does finally sort itself out.

The decision in Clark County, which was affirmed by court order, which I felt was not necessary, was the decision to allow special precincts on the Las Vegas strip to allow the casino workers a chance to caucus.

My thought was that it catered to a special interest group, the Culinary Workers Union. There were no provisions for any other labor group to do the same and there were precincts already set up for everyone else already as well. I felt this move by the leadership of the Culinary Workers Union coupled with the public display of a voter’s preference for any given candidate was an unnecessary intimidation that could be directed towards the voter resulting in retribution towards that voter on the part of the union leadership at some point if the voter did not support the union viewpoint.

One of the good outcomes of the caucus process was that it came as close as possible to showing the voters what a direct democracy looks like. The early Greeks practiced this method as do some townships in New England. We in the United States don’t, as a general rule, practice direct democracy primarily because it would be just as confusing as the caucus was due to the huge numbers it would involve.

In any event, Nevada has been caucused, and how.

Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at
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