Long lines and frustrated voters that accompanied Nevada caucuses in 2016 were not enough to sway lawmakers toward a primary system. Legislative efforts from both parties to return to presidential primaries have failed to gain traction over the years, with the most recent failed push marked by concerns that Nevada would lose political prominence nationally. UNLV political science professor Michael W. Bowers, who took part in the 2016 caucuses, says it was a confused atmosphere for everyone. Volunteers struggled to handle the heavy turnout brought on by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., he said. Bowers said the primary system would give more people the opportunity to participate and increase voter turnout. State elections officials would likely be better trained to run the primary, and the process would give more voting time to people who work or have religious obligations, such as Sabbath on Saturday.
“The process is substantially smoother and better run as a primary rather than a caucus,” Bowers said. “This has the concurrent advantage of, I think, making people more confident in the results.”
Assembly Bill 293 would have given state parties the option of using the primary system rather than caucuses and would have allowed same-day voter registration, which raised logistical concerns from elections officials. Senate Bill 211 was similar, and both measures failed to move beyond the Legislature’s first committee passage deadline.
Democrats were largely behind these recent measures, and similar legislation in 2015 was supported by Republicans.