Supporters of a Republican-backed bill to scrap Nevada’s presidential caucuses for a secret-ballot primary in February argued Tuesday that the move would expand participation in choosing the nation’s president. “Some people are very worried about upsetting the holidays and the inconvenience,” state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, told members of the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, which took no action on Senate Bill 421. “I personally don’t believe that the inconvenience of selecting the leader of the free world through a process that allows you to walk into a ballot box and cast your vote is too much of an inconvenience,” he said.
Settelmeyer added that caucuses, held on a single day for only a few hours, disenfranchises the elderly, military personnel and others who can’t get to their caucus location at a specific time.
But Democrats, county election officials and others said the change would be difficult to implement and upset the entire state election cycle. The bill would allow the Democratic Party to opt out of the presidential primary and continue a caucus.
The bill would set the presidential preference primary for the last Tuesday in February and move all other state primary races to February from June. It passed the Senate last week on a partisan 11-9 vote.
Republican supporters argue the change would protect the Silver State’s early influence in the presidential selection process and encourage more voter participation. It would also dilute the influence of grass-roots party activists who are more motivated to turn out for precinct caucuses and in recent years have taken control of the state GOP Party.