In a bid to increase voter accessibility in its first-in-the-West caucuses, the Nevada Democratic Party has unveiled its virtual caucus plan for 2020.
Voters will be able to cast their votes in the caucus over the phone, a decision the party hopes will increase participation. “Our mission here is really to make this the most expansive and acceptable caucus we’ve ever had,” said Shelby Wiltz, the state party's 2020 caucus director.
Callers will be able to enter their choices via an automated system with English, Spanish and Tagalog language options. A live phone line will be set up in case there are any problems in with the automated system, Wiltz said.
Voters registered as Democrats in Nevada by Nov. 30 will be eligible to participate and set the order in which candidates get their votes.
The process will make it easier for voters to participate in the caucus process, a time-consuming affair that can last for hours, Wiltz said. Voters who are disabled or cannot get time off of work can benefit from a call-in system, as well as travelers and members of the military, she said.
The party is taking security seriously, and there will be multifactor authentication to ensure the process is secure, Wiltz said.
The sign-up process for the virtual caucus will run from Jan. 1 to 15. Voters who have signed up will be able to virtually vote on Feb. 16 and 17, a few days before the physical caucus on Feb. 22.
No vote totals will be released before the end of the caucus process. Early voting will also be held Feb. 15 to 18.
William McCurdy, the State Democratic Party chairman and a state assemblyman representing Las Vegas, said in a statement that Nevada’s position early in the election process means it is important that significant opportunities are given to residents to vote.
“The Silver State plays a decisive role in choosing our country’s Democratic nominee for president — we are the first Western state, the first diverse state and the only early battleground state,” he said. “We know it is imperative that Democrats across our state have every option and opportunity available to vote and I couldn’t be more excited to see this new process become a reality.”
Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement that he backs the plan.
“Our democracy works best when more people can participate, not fewer,” he said. “Nevada Democrats are working to energize our grassroots and ensure that the voice of the people rings loud and clear on Caucus Day.”