Joanna Lien never caucused before but this year, the 29-year-old Pahrump resident is readying for the Nevada Democratic caucus on Feb. 20.
Lien, a temporary precinct chair for precinct 30, said she plans to be on the Floyd Elementary School campus on the caucus day.
“This will be my first time really getting out and being this involved more than just your average armchair activist,” she said.
Along with a group of 15 people, Lien participated in a mock-up caucus at the Bernie Sanders campaign office, 2201 E. Postal Drive, Suite 9 on Wednesday. Participants learned about caucus rules, terminology and the process.
The Nevada Caucus is the third step in the 2016 United States presidential election after Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary. Nevada has become an early battleground state for in 2008 at the urging of Sen. Harry Reid.
The three layers of the caucus include the precinct caucuses where delegates will be elected to the county conventions who will then select delegates to Nevada State Convention. Delegates for the presidential nominating conventions are selected at the Nevada State Convention.
“Every time I go (to a mock-up caucus), I learn something new,” said Lien, who participated in two other mock-up caucuses before.
As the process goes, Lien will nominate herself as a permanent precinct chair and if there are no objections, she will continue into the process where she will oversee the process. The procedure was foreign to her before, so she took some time to learn all of the rules.
“It can be a little overwhelming for sure, but I think that the community is really great about coming together and explaining and including,” she added.
Similarly to Iowa Caucuses, Nevada Caucuses are run by the state political parties.
The Nevada Caucuses are open to any registered voters and also allow for same-day registration. During the precinct voting, participants are put into preference groups for each candidate. The procedure determines candidate’s viability or the amount of support. To stay in the race, each candidate has to have a minimum of 15 percent in each precinct.
If a preference group isn’t viable, they can either join another group or stay uncommitted. Each viable candidate’s group will then try to persuade the nonviable candidates’ voters to join their groups.
“When I first read about it, I was definitely concerned, but getting out talking to people and attending trainings has really been helpful,” Lien said. “We will see how it all works out come caucus day.”
“I’ve lived in two other states in my life, Texas and California, both of which are primary states. Now, the primary process is of course a lot simpler: You show up, you vote, you go home. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for being involved.”
The Nevada caucus has grown to prominence in the recent years and is expected to draw a lot of attention as Republicans and Democrats will vie for its increasingly diverse electorate on Feb. 20 and Feb. 23.
For Margery Hanson, another Pahrump resident the caucus isn’t new. Hanson, who will also volunteer her time at the caucus, participated in the process 2008 and 2012.
“So far, the best I can tell you about right now is we are just more organized,” Hanson said.
For many campaigns the week before the caucus is crucial as they try to reach out to everyone by phone banking and door knocking.
“I think the enthusiasm level is about the same, those of us who have been before, are not quite as enthusiastic as we are informed, so we know what to expect, we are not going into it all glossy-eyed and naive, we are going into it ready to defend our position, should we need to,” Hanson added.
But for someone who has never done it before, Hanson said the most difficult thing about the caucus is the math.
“The more people that show up for their candidate, the better chance the candidate has of winning. That’s what the caucus is about,” she said.
Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at email@example.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77