INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — This is the second in a series of columns on what Republicans should know about their presidential preference caucus scheduled next month on Feb. 4. If you didn’t read the first one I am repeating the most important message: even if you’re already a registered voter, you must register again in order to vote at the caucus. But here’s the good news: you can register online in less than 30 seconds by going to www.washoecountygop.org. By the way, if you are not a Washoe County registered voter and you wish to vote in the caucus, you must register (in person) with the County registrar of voters by January 20. That’s tomorrow.
How does a caucus differ from a primary election? Elections are governed by statute and administered in Nevada by county employees. Caucuses, both Republican and Democratic, are controlled solely by the two respective political parties and the rules can and do differ. For instance there is no early voting, no absentee voting and poll hours have been reduced to accommodate an anticipated 17 percent turnout. If you want to vote you must: (1) register and (2) show up at Incline High School at 9 a.m. on Feb. 4. By the way, note that a low turnout makes your vote count that much more.
I have heard some recalcitrance about participating in the caucus. I would like to address this:
First, some folks recall the 2008 caucus as being disorganized, time consuming and confusing; ultimately there was a winner but the State GOP decided afterward that the results would be non-binding. While that was true in 2008 the 2012 caucus will bear no resemblance to the last one which was a historic first for both Democrats and Republicans. Just the ability to register on line will obviate about 90 percent of the time wasted and confusion that occurred previously. Moreover the caucus votes will this time definitely be binding on delegates ... that has already been voted on by the Nevada GOP Central Committee and cannot be overturned.
Second, there are mumblings that if Romney wins in South Carolina and Florida this month the race will be all over and Nevada will be irrelevant so why bother to vote? Not so. The Republican National Committee required states to have proportional delegate selection instead of winner take all. As a consequence Romney will have to split his Iowa and New Hampshire delegates with second and third place candidates. Also the Florida GOP illegally moved their primary election ahead of Nevada’s caucus so the national GOP is penalizing them 50 percent of their delegates.
Prominent Nevada Conservative Chuck Muth points out that unless Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum decide between themselves that one of them will be the official “not Romney” candidate, then “Ron Paul will, by default, end up being the last “not Romney” standing — with the resources to stay in the race ‘til the bitter end. And with the nominating rules changed this year — whereby candidates are awarded delegates proportionally rather than winner-take-all — don’t yet rule out a brokered national convention. Mitt Romney hasn’t sealed the deal with conservatives/tea partiers yet by any stretch.”
So your vote will count irrespective of the South Carolina and Florida results. Conclusion? Get out of bed and get to Incline High School Feb. 4 and vote for your favorite GOP presidential candidate.
— Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates and a member of the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP. he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.