Where will you be on Saturday, January 19th, 2008? Now’s the time to mark your calendar for an important event that will be taking place in communities all over the state. Political caucuses held on that day will give you a chance (in fact, your only chance) to voice your opinion on the candidates in the presidential primaries. Presidential candidates will not be on the ballot in the August primary election. If you don’t make your choice on January 19th, someone else will do it for you, and you’ll be stuck with a candidate you may not like.
When November 2008 rolls around, we’ll have to pick our next president from a very short list: one candidate from the Republican party, one from the Democrats, and a small number of people from minor political parties. Choices then will be limited, but between now and January 19th, we can still choose from a wide-ranging group of people with differing views.
Nevada recently moved the date of its caucuses, making it one of the early-voting states that help national political parties gauge grassroots support for their field of candidates. This has resulted in many more Nevada appearances by presidential hopefuls than in previous years. It also provides all of us a chance to hear their views, not only on national issues, but on subjects directly affecting our state, such as Yucca Mountain, Internet gambling, Lake Tahoe preservation, and a host of others. By the time January gets here, we should all have a good idea of which candidate best expresses our views.
How Do Caucuses Work?
The system of political caucuses is designed to enable any registered voter to express his or her opinion in front of neighbors and friends at a local school, library or other public building. It’s American democracy in action. Voters who are registered with either major political party will receive postcards in late December or early January informing them of the location of the local caucus for that party. Don’t let this important piece of information get lost in the crush of holiday mail. Put it in a safe place so you can refer to it later.
On the day of the caucus, report to the specified location and sign in. You will help elect a chairperson and secretary for your precinct, and you may choose to run as a delegate to your party’s county convention. After those present vote for delegates and alternates, one supporter of each presidential candidate speaks for a few minutes about the candidate, and then all attendees vote in a Presidential Preference Poll. The results of these polls, which are released to the media at the end of the day, will play an important part in determining the relative strength of each candidate.
At the caucus, you may also bring up any issue you want in cluded in the party’s county platform, so if you are passionate about any political topic, this is your chance to bring it before the party’s political leadership. The entire caucus takes less than an hour from beginning to end.
Delegates elected at the precinct caucuses meet in March at the county conventions, and delegates from the county conventions will go to the state conventions in April. It is the state conventions that choose the delegates to attend the national conventions in the fall, where the final selection of presidential candidates takes place.
Digital cable subscribers can view free five-minute videos (one for Republicans and one for Democrats) called Nevada Caucus ’08, which explain the process in an easy-to-understand format. Cox Communications customers can directly link to the program by going to Channel 852. Charter Communications viewers can go to channel 999, select “I Want More,” then enter the “Political” category. You may also view the videos on the Web at www.nevadacaucus.tv.
What’s the Next Step?
First of all, make sure you’re registered with the political party of your choice at least 30 days prior to the caucus. You don’t need to go to the Registrar of Voters – forms are available at post offices, at DMV locations, at various social service agencies and on college campuses. Next, take some time to research the views of each candidate to determine who best matches your viewpoint on important subjects.
Most importantly, mark January 19th on your calendar and make sure to attend your local caucus. It’s your chance to help decide how the country will be run for the next four years.