Perfect Nevada's Caucus
Perfect Nevada's Caucus
In 2016, perceptions of bias and unfairness in the Democratic party nominating process led to unprecedented divisions and discord within the party. Millions of people who had just entered the political process not only had the deal with the disappointment of a loss but had to deal with the possibility of being cheated out of a win.
Regardless of whether there was any wrongdoing, the absence of transparency and failure to avoid any appearance of impropriety led to contentious disagreements with the process and an absence of faith in the integrity of the results.
As one of the first four nominating contests, there will be a spotlight on Nevada, and it will be important to show that Nevada has learned from past mistakes. We need to add transparency and organization to this process, along with a real way to audit the results if there seems to be something wrong. If the Nevada caucus and convention had been organized and transparent, the concerns about unfairness would never have gained traction, and the deep divide between supporters of the two candidates would have been healed prior to the election.
In order to achieve goals of the Democratic party to safeguard the rights of women and minorities, to ensure access to healthcare for all, and reduce the influence of money on our political system, Democrats will need to turn out every like-minded voter, and unify the party under one tent. It is inevitable that the supporters of some candidates will be unhappy that their candidate does not win the nomination, however if we can improve the process to eliminate loopholes that could be abused, and to eliminate policies creating the perception of bias and unfairness, then the results of the nomination will not divide the party, and we can go into the general election united.
Below is a summary of changes that we believe will improve the Nevada Delegate Selection Plan by instilling transparency and impartiality into the system. At the end of every petition we have a link to the actual language of the sections in question, the problems, solutions and proposed amended language (along with any other addendums of significance).
We ran this list through several lawyers, experts and key Nevada Democrats to make this the most inclusive, fair, accurate and thorough plan we could. While reviewing please keep in mind, we are ONLY commenting on the Delegate Selection Plan. Subsequent convention rules and other documents will be reviewed once they are released.
We are not saying these are ALL of the problems, we are saying that these are the problems we think are the most important to focus on, with the most attainable solutions. Certain problems we just can’t do anything about at this point, so we are focusing on what we can.
We wish to work proactively with the state party to make Nevada's nomination contest the best it can be. We hope that the party sees the value of these additions and implements them immediately to unify and strengthen the party. We want a party that is truly "democratic" at its core and supports and invited the well-meaning contributions by anyone working for the betterment of the party and country.
[For easier reading, please visit this site: https://democratizedemocracy.com/f/summary-of-our-improvement-on-the-nevada-delegate-selection-plan?fbclid=IwAR2DPGqCF2i58dYmTuKfDwnNa89mPjk2tMn8RmP-sQP5Lulaqa_v9oLRp0o
#1 Voice Vote Challenges
In the 2016 Convention, the subjectivity of a close voice vote became a major source of contention. To avoid that, we are asking that if a voice vote on any measure at a convention is too close to call, it can be challenged by a motion from the floor (by a campaign or delegate community representative approved by a campaign), and will then be decided by a standing division of the house, performing a count of yays and nays. Votes on important issues should not be decided solely by the subjective interpretation of one person.
#2 Protecting the Integrity of Same Day Registration
On caucus day 2016, traffic from same-day registration applications caused the Secretary of State’s (SOS) website to crash, forcing site leads to turn to paper registration forms.
Unlike when voting in an election, there was no system to verify that those registering were who they purported to be. No election system in the world relies upon optimism alone to avoid voter fraud. While general elections already have an effective system to ensure accuracy, unless the people taking the registration are fully trained in registration rules, the caucus system does not have a single means to ensure a same day registrant is who they say they are, or that they live in the district that they say, or that they are eligible to register at all. Hundreds of the same day registrations from the 2016 caucus were invalidated after the fact, all of whom presumably voted in the caucus, and hundreds more who were likely legitimate voters were unable to participate in the conventions because their registration forms were lost or mishandled. All of this occurred because the volunteers at the sites taking registrations were not qualified to take on the responsibility of handling this volume of voter registrations. For this reason, it is essential to have same-day registrations performed only by licensed field registrars, who are familiar with all Nevada laws and processes for accurate and legal voter registration.
We propose resolving this issue by requiring a licensed field registrar to handle registering voters at any site accepting same day registrations. Field registrars are fully trained in the laws and rules relating to voter registration.
#3 Fair and Equal Campaign Notification
It was found in 2016 that only one campaign was being given crucial information about the convention process. When this was discovered, a credentials committee member shared that information with the other campaign and was subsequently removed from her position. Events like this create a perception of unfairness, and directly contribute to an impression of bias, leading to schism within the party.
Not providing critical information to all campaigns involved in the convention process is a process in conflict with best practices and transparent elections and we request additional assurance in our NDSP this will not happen again, and all campaigns will receive equal communication.
#4 Give the District Level Voters at Least 50% of the Delegates
In Nevada we break down our delegate counts as follows:
[Please see our website linked above for this chart]
In 1984 when superdelegates were first introduced, they were supposed to be capped so that “Party Leaders and Officials” only have 15% of the vote. In Nevada for 2020, they are currently taking up 35% of our delegation (25% in national delegates alone, when the national average is almost 10% lower).
With only 23 delegates going toward the general population, that’s less than 50% of Nevada’s delegates being truly democratically elected.
Nevada got an additional national delegate in 2020 and NV Dems gave this national delegate to the At-Large caucus, which is already overly represented in the Delegate Selection Plan. With the introduction of early caucusing and virtual caucuses allowing people who are unavailable on caucus day to participate, the number of participants in the at-large caucuses is likely to drop significantly. With that group shrinking, it makes far more sense to give the additional delegate to the voters, rather than increase the representation of a group that is shrinking. This change would give the Delegate Level (general public) voters, 50% of the delegates.
This additional delegate should be placed into District 1, as District 1 is currently underrepresented. We firmly believe that our Nevada Democratic Party should be at least 50% truly democratic.
[For a chart breakdown on this, please visit the link at the top of this article]
#5 Problems With Site Leads, Precinct Verification and Delegate Lists
One site lead is put in charge of dozens of precincts. These site leads (and temporary chairs) are not paid, not tested, stretched thin and generally vocal supporters of one candidate. Not to mention, especially for site leads, the burden and pressures we are placing on ‘volunteers’ is unrealistic. Volunteers are a valued and essential resource for conducting the caucuses, but the problems in the 2016 caucuses proved that we need at least one person on each major site that has proven competency with the rules and processes. Allowing thousands of votes to be misallocated because one site lead didn’t pay attention to their training is unacceptable.
In 2016, there were multiple reports of bias, ineptitude and the hotline number was inaccessible for the majority of the time of the caucus, leaving issues unresolved and the caucus results in question. Incorrect delegate math and procedural challenges at the precinct level also went unresolved.
Without any auditing system or oversight, there was no way to contest very serious claims of errors in tabulation, voter registrations that were kicked back as invalid, or losses of elected delegate data for entire precincts.
This led to campaigns not being given crucial delegate data for weeks after the caucus, and some data was never recovered. Which led to the Clark County Convention needing to be opened to all Democrats to fill delegate positions (which caused further issues at the state convention).
We propose that each caucus-goer’s preference card be uniquely numbered, and kept until the County Conventions, and if irregularities put the results from any precinct in question, the preference cards will be able to verify results.
In addition, all site leads should be paid staff, required to undergo more thorough training than that given to volunteers, and required to pass a competency test on the essential caucus rules and processes, and each site containing more than five (5) precincts be required to have a trained legal consultant on site to resolve issues relating to interpretation of rules or laws. Finally, the state party must establish an auditing committee to resolve disputes or questions related to calculating caucus results.
#6 Concerns with the Virtual Caucus
The 2016 Nevada caucus was marred by huge delays, vast numbers of lost records, and horrible disorganization. Coming from this past, the state party is adding two new highly complex systems to the caucus process, neither of which have ever been attempted in any caucus state in the country. It is hard to imagine how Nevada will handle a virtual caucus, an early caucus, at-large caucuses, and the standard caucuses, all with same-day registration, in a system that last time, didn’t even have a paper record. In questioning the party about how the virtual system will be implemented, the answer to nearly every question has been essentially “we don’t know, we’ll figure it out later.” While implementing a virtual caucus would be a great accomplishment if implemented effectively, approving virtual caucusing now, when no one has the slightest idea how to implement it, is patently ridiculous. We propose removing virtual caucus from the DSP, and proposing it as a plan amendment once there are enough details to effectively judge if it’s a viable plan.
#7 Precinct Locations Locked in by February 14th, 2020
In 2016 thousands of volunteers went and knocked on their neighbors’ doors to tell them when and where to caucus, so that voters would have the essential information to have their vote counted. However many caucus locations were changed less than 48 hours before voting, with notification from the state only going to the campaigns to disseminate to change to voters. This required a massive, last minute volunteer effort of resending volunteers to the thousands of homes, on two weeknights, and likely resulted in a large number of voters being sent to the wrong voting location as a result.
Once these neighbors got to their sites, registration was delayed because in a large number of locations, no one had the wi-fi passwords, wi-fi wasn’t working on the weekend, or doors were locked to rooms we should have been caucusing in, with no way to contact key holders, and no way for campaigns to reach out to site-leads about any problems in the days leading up to the caucus.
We propose that precinct locations should be locked in by February 14th, with no location changes allowed after that date. In addition, every campaign should be provided with the name, cell phone number and email address of every site lead, key holder on duty, and IT administrator for each site, at least 72 hours in advance of the caucus.
#8 No Voting Before Everyone Can Register
The DSP states that at either 10:00am or when 40% of registered delegates are present, the party may start to conduct businesses (taking votes and giving out crucial information). Convention registration does not end till noon. It should be common sense that taking votes with less than half the attendees present is improper. Essential party business should not start till after registration is completed.
#9 Impartial Credentials and Teller Committee Appointments
The committees who decide who is eligible to participate in the caucus and conventions and those who are responsible for counting votes must be made up of unbiased individuals. These positions should not be simply appointed without oversight. We propose that each campaign be given three vetoes that they may use on any committee member that they do not consider sufficiently impartial.
#10 No Electioneering in Caucus Opening Remarks
In 2016, before the Caucuses split from the registration rooms to their respective precincts, Site Leads were directed to read letters from party leaders that were openly advocating for voters to vote for a specific candidate. This is called “electioneering”.
According to NRS 293.361, electioneering at a voting site is illegal (not to mention obviously just wrong). If party leaders wish to use the caucus to address voters, they must do so without advocating for any candidate.
To see the actual amendments (and more detailed information on this) please visit:
This petition and summary were respectfully compiled by:
Angie Morelli (Clark County)
Rob Kern (Clark County)
Marcie Armstrong (Clark County)
Persephone Bellows (Clark County)
Sky Cardenas (Clark County)
Dwayne Chesnut (Clark County)
Carol Chesnut (Clark County)
Kristal Glass (Clark County)
Lydia Jones (Clark County)
Fred Koegel (Clark County)
Jacie Urquidi-Maynard (Clark County)
Shirley Paolone-Koegel (Clark County)
Ana Robles (Clark County)
Susan M. Szczygiel (Clark County)
Mark A. Szczygiel (Clark County)
Leslie Sexton (Lyon County)
Angela Silva (Clark County)
Sue Woolf (Clark County)
We started this petition because...
In 2016, perceptions of bias and unfairness in the Democratic party nominating process led to unprecedented divisions and discord within the party. Regardless of whether there was any wrongdoing, the absence of transparency and failure to avoid any appearance of impropriety led to contentious disagreements with the process and an absence of faith in the integrity of the results.
This is a list of changes we believe will improve the Nevada Delegate Selection Plan by instilling transparency and impartiality into the system.