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The Gummy Bear Caucus: How does the Democratic Caucus work?

(Democratic Caucus TODAY/KSNV)
(Democratic Caucus TODAY/KSNV)
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Those attending the Nevada Democratic Caucus for the first time this Saturday probably don't know what to expect. After heading to their precinct caucus location at 11 a.m., and registering if they have not already, Democrats will take part in a far different -- and much longer -- process than the method of voting most people are used to.

Unlike Tuesday's GOP caucus, where registered republicans cast a secret ballot, supporters of the two democratic candidates will gather at public places and declare their support for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders on Feb. 20. What will happen is they will cluster together is different parts of the room for a count.

Any candidate at any location must first get 15 percent of the people in attendance in order to be considered viable. If not, those supporters have to join another candidate.

Caucus locations all around Nevada will then report their numbers: how many for Hillary, how many for Bernie. Delegates are awarded based on who gets what.

The Nevada Democratic Party has released official information on the caucus process:


OFFICIAL Democratic Caucus FAQ

What are Nevada's First in the West caucuses?

Nevada's First in the West caucuses are neighborhood meetings where Democrats come together to declare their presidential preference. As the third state in the country and the first in the West to participate in the process of selecting our Democratic nominee, Nevadans have a unique opportunity on Saturday, February 20 to make their voices heard about the future of our party and our nation. These caucuses will help Nevada Democrats gear up early for the 2016 general election.

Where will caucuses take place across Nevada?

The NV Dems have set up about 250 caucus locations statewide. Nevadans should use our caucus locator tool to find their correct precinct caucus:

Who can participate in the caucuses?

Any registered Democratic voter can participate, and Democrats allow same-day voter registration for those who need to update their information or change party affiliation. Any eligible voter who will be 18 years old by Election Day (November 8, 2016) can caucus.

What time will the caucuses start? How long will they take?

Registration and check-in opens at 11 a.m. PT. Nevadans must be in line by 12 noon to participate. Precinct caucuses are allowed to start dividing into preference groups after 12 noon once attendees have been checked in. Results will come in on a rolling basis after that. It will depend on each precinct, but the first results should start coming in early afternoon.

How do the Democratic caucuses work?

Eligible caucus goers divide to form presidential preference groups. If a candidate's preference group doesn't have enough people to be "viable," then those attendees will have an opportunity to join another preference group or join together with another non-viable group to become a viable group. Precinct-level delegates are awarded to the preference groups based on their size.

When and how is a deck of cards used as a tie-breaker?

In the rare circumstances where two or more presidential preference groups are tied for the loss or gain of a precinct-level delegate and have the same lowest or highest decimal, groups must draw a single card from a deck of cards to break the tie. High card determines winner.

How are results reported?

Up to 12,359 precinct-level delegates will be awarded on Saturday. These results will be reported to the Nevada State Democratic Party by precinct chairs through either a toll-free phone number using

interactive voice response (IVR) technology, or a secure web form. This reporting system will allow the party to provide accurate and timely results to the public. The NV Dems have a website reporting precinct results, which includes a county-by-county interactive precinct map:

How many national (district-level) delegates are up for grabs on Saturday?

Nevada sends a total of 43 delegates and three alternates to the Democratic National Convention. There are 23 pledged district-level delegates that will ultimately be awarded to the national convention based proportionally on Saturday's precinct-level caucus results. The First Congressional District will award five delegates, and the Second, Third and Fourth Congressional Districts will each award six delegates to each candidate based on the percentage of the precinct caucus vote. There are also five pledged party leaders and elected official delegates and seven at-large delegates that are elected proportionally from the state convention.

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What about the unpledged delegates, or "superdelegates"?

None of Nevada's eight unpledged delegates are up for grabs on February 20. Unpledged delegates aren't bound to any particular candidate and can shift their support, as many did in the 2008 primary. The only delegates allocated on February 20 are the 23 pledged district-level delegates.

Why is Nevada an early caucus state?

Nevada has used a presidential caucus system for decades. Ahead of the 2008 election cycle, the Democratic National Committee formally moved Nevada up in the nominating calendar because of our growing diversity, the importance of the West, and our designation as a caucus state. Nearly half of Nevada's population is non-white: 28% Latino, 9% African American, and 9% Asian American / Pacific Islander. U.S. Senator Harry Reid played a critical role in securing our early-state status.

What are the rules for press on Caucus Day?

Our caucus volunteers need to be prepared to handle and verify members of the media who wish to attend a caucus. You are required to email to confirm your plans. If you are in Clark County, pick up media credentials on Friday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at MEET Las Vegas, 233 S 4th Street. As a guest observer, any broadcast equipment must be set up and used in a way that will not hinder or obstruct the participation of any caucus attendee.

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