GOP voters could participate in Democratic caucus

UPDATE, 2/19/16, 3:30 PM: So far today, the state Democratic Party, the state GOP, Harry Reid, Washoe GOP Chair Adam Khan and GOP-aligned Engage NV have all come out against any plan for Republicans to double-caucus.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske put out a bit of a namby pamby statement that did not quite say it was illegal:

In response to a number of questions received recently by the Secretary of State's office regarding the possibility of registered voters in Nevada participating in the presidential caucuses of both major political parties, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske issues the following statement: 

"As the state's Chief Election Officer and keeper of the official statewide voter registration list, I have been monitoring voter registration trends, particularly changes in party affiliation, in the weeks leading up to the caucuses, and will continue to monitor these trends after the caucuses.  Given that the participation rules of the presidential caucuses for both major political parties are different, as well as the fact that the caucuses will be held on different days, 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." 

So I followed up and asked three questions:

What trends is the SOS referring to? Have there been major switches going on? And why would they be disqualified?

The answers:


1.       As a matter of practice, the Secretary of State’s office monitors voter registration trends on a regular basis, including increases/decreases in active voters, increases/decreases in voters registered with a particular political party, and changes in the age demographic of all registered voters .  The trends referred to in the press release are registered voters who change parties and then change parties again in a short period.  While there is no prohibition on the number of times or frequency a person can change parties, this type of activity, if it occurs around the caucus dates, may be an indication that the voter has participated or attempted to participate in both caucuses.


2.       When you ask if there have been major switches going on, I assume you are referring to large numbers of registered voters switching their party affiliation in the time leading up to the caucuses.  While we have been collected this data through frequent snapshots of the statewide voter registration list, we have not analyzed the data.


3.       Pursuant to NRS 293.135(1), a precinct meeting (i.e., caucus) in only to consist of the registered voters of a particular party.  Likewise, NRS 293.137(1) requires that precinct meetings be freely accessible to “any registered voter of the party calling the meeting” and that “At the meeting, the delegate to which the members of the party residing in the precinct are entitled in the party’s county convention must be elected…”  Additionally, NRS 293.155(2) states that, “No person may act as a delegate at any convention unless the person is a duly qualified elector of the county or precinct which the person seeks to represent.”


As you know, major political parties in Nevada have the authority to establish their own rules related to the caucus process (see NRS 293.137 and 293.155), including the selection of delegates and a challenge process, if any, to the credentials of delegates.  Pursuant to the rules of each party, a delegate who is not a registered member of the party he or she seeks to represent may be challenged and disqualified.


UPDATE, 2/18/16, 11:30 AM: Below is an email sent to GOP folks, with a link to this post, by Nick Vander Poel, a Republican activist and former AFPer. It was sent, he says, to 135 Republicans, and Vander Poel asked them to forward to others. He left out an important "not" in the missive (before "you will be arrested...").

The question is whether this goes viral or whether it affects only a few voters. I assume the latter -- there will be a fear factor -- but it's impossible to predict.


Please forward to family and friends and fellow GOP caucus goers.
I was able to confirm through a former Secretary of State elections official as well as a former County Clerk.  Both said and confirmed that Republicans can show up on Saturday, February 20th and register as a Democrat if you have a burning desire.  Then still be eligible to participate to caucus on Tuesday for GOP candidate of choice. 
What was also confirmed.  The caucuses are NOT a state sanctioned election, the caucus is conducted by both parties.  So this is NOT illegal and you will be arrested or fined.  So put that rumor to rest.
Some call this idea silly but the reality is, with low turnout the Democrat caucus is going to close and every little bit is going to help.
Again, here are the details/loophole of how this is possible:


UPDATE: I suppose it's also true that mischievous Democrats could have registered GOP by Feb. 13 and could vote in both caucuses as well. But they would have had to thought of that already. And not so obvious what the play would be for them. And no evidence that it happened anyhow  


Nevada has a closed caucus sytem -- that is, only Democrats can participate on Feb. 20 and only Republicans on Feb. 23.

But because of a quirk in the system -- cue the national ridicule again -- Republicans could vote in both caucuses. How?

Republicans closed their registration rolls on Feb. 13, and that is the file that will be used on Feb. 23. Democrats are allowing same-day registration on Saturday.

So: A Republican registered by Feb. 13 could show up at a Democratic caucus site on Saturday, switch to the Democratic Party, vote and then still participate on Tuesday because the party switch would not show up on the GOP caucus rolls.

Clark County Voter Registrar Joe Gloria confirmed Monday that this could happen. And he also pointed out that the Republican-become-Democrat could switch back to the GOP in time to vote in the June primary.

Once again, the Nevada Republican Party's decision to go on a different day and not allow same-day registration comes back to make Nevada look like, well, a joke.

The obvious mischief would be a bunch of Republicans doing this to try to skew the caucus toward Bernie Sanders. I have not detected any such organized move -- the GOP can barely organize its own caucus --  so it may just be a loophole no one has thought to exploit.

Hope I haven't given anyone any ideas....