The Crazy Nevada Caucus Loophole You Need To Know

by Stephanie Casella

Democrats in Nevada have threatened legal action due to a loophole in the caucus system that potentially allows for Republicans to caucus as both Republicans and Democrats. Because the structure of each party's caucus is a bit different — and because on the Democratic side, Nevada is an open caucus state, where voters can change their registration to blue on the fly — the Republicans have an ever-so-slight legal loophole. Essentially, Democrats — and others — were allowed to register as Democrats on-site at their caucuses on Saturday, whereas Republicans had to register as Republicans by Feb. 13. in order to caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 23, an entirely separate day from the Democrats.

This places Republicans in a situation of slight advantage. Since any Nevada resident can look up his or her designated caucus site and then show up on Saturday to register, that person could potentially pick a favorite between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — or the candidate they feel is less likely to win against a Republican candidate — and then caucus, and then go on to caucus as a Republican the following Tuesday. Unethical? Yes. Immoral? Probably. Legal? Who the heck knows, but Democrats are concerned.

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The Nevada secretary of state discussed possible legal repercussions for Nevadans who try to participate in both parties' caucuses in a pre-emptive effort to combat any concerns over the validity of Saturday's Democratic caucus results:

It is a concern that a registered voter in Nevada might participate in both caucuses. Those voters suspected of participating in both caucuses will be reported to both major political parties and may be subject to challenge and disqualification from further participation in the nominating process.

Nevada's Democratic Party chair Roberta Lange went so far as to call it voter fraud, which is a felony. "After reviewing Nevada law, we believe that registering under false pretenses in order to participate in the Democratic caucuses for purposes of manipulating the presidential nominating process is a felony," Lange said in a statement.

However, Miranda Hoover, president of the University of Nevada Reno College Republicans, issued a statement saying that the student group had informed its members of the loophole and told them they can vote in both caucuses, citing it as perfectly legal, though she would not endorse or oppose the idea.

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Apparently, there are more than a few ways to skew the system if that's what Nevada voters really wish to do. Nevada is hoping this loophole will see resolution by 2020, but with a Clinton win already under lockdown, knowing how big of a role this may have played in these Democratic caucuses remains to be seen. If it turns out that Saturday's caucus results don't accurately represent the desires of Democratic voters, it could mean Republicans, not Clinton, was the big winner.