How to Follow Voting Results in Nevada, South Carolina

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Ruth Williams holds a roll of "I Voted" stickers at a polling place on the campus of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, in January 2008. Residents head to the polls on Saturday to vote in the state's Republican presidential primary. Chris Keane/Reuters

Nevada residents will kick off the 2016 presidential candidate nominating process in the West as Democrats caucus for the party's nominee on Saturday. On the same day, voters in South Carolina will show up at the polls to cast their ballots in the first-in-the-South primary for the Republican Party.

At the caucuses, Nevadans have the opportunity to offer their recommendations on the Democratic nominee for president. Voters will suggest whether they want former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to succeed Barack Obama and become the 45th president of the United States.

Meanwhile, the six remaining Republican candidates are competing for votes in South Carolina. At the top are real estate mogul Donald Trump and senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are also in the hunt.

How Do the Nevada Caucuses Differ From the Iowa Caucuses?

For the most part, the states' early caucuses are similar. In Iowa, Clinton and Sanders finished in what was essentially a tie. Results were so close in some of the precincts in Iowa that Democrats flipped coins to assign delegates. Clinton secured 49.9 percent of the delegate count, while Sanders won 49.6 percent. He went on to win the New Hampshire primary a week later.

Nevada has held early caucuses only since 2008. The state is the first in the West and the third in the country where residents will voice their preferences for the Democratic nominee for president. With such a tight race, the results likely are to be scrutinized as closely as they were in Iowa.

The state's caucuses are neighborhood meetings of Democrats who come together to elect delegates to the county, state and national conventions. Same-day registration will be offered for new voters, or Republicans and independents who want to be Democrats. Any eligible voter who will be 18 by Election Day on November 8 can caucus. The tactic aims to encourage residents to show up to voice their opinions.

A volunteer leads each precinct. The Nevada State Democratic Party has set up about 250 caucus locations. Similar to Iowa, voters in Nevada will move to different areas of the room to indicate which candidate they support. Each aligned group must meet a viability threshold of 15 percent. If a presidential preference group doesn't have enough caucus-goers to elect a delegate, the participants are allowed to realign under a different candidate. Precincts are allowed to start dividing into preference groups after noon, once attendees have been checked in to the location.

At the end of the caucus, the volunteer reports the results to the Nevada State Democratic Party. The state will award a total of 43 delegates and three alternates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which will be held in July in Philadelphia. National conventions are where delegates from all participating states choose their party's nominee.

Nevada is known for having low voter turnout.

How Does the South Carolina Primary Work?

The Palmetto State holds an open primary, which means any registered voter can cast a ballot in either of the two party's primaries.

In South Carolina's Republican primary, a total of 50 delegates are available. The winner takes at least 29 delegates. The other 21 delegates are awarded to the top candidate in each of the state's seven congressional districts. The delegates will go to the 2016 Republican National Convention, to be held in July in Cleveland.

The South Carolina Republican Party prides itself on selecting the candidate who continues on to be the eventual GOP presidential nominee. Since 1980, only one candidate—Mitt Romney—has won the Republican nomination for president without first winning the South Carolina primary.

Why Are the Dates Different for Republicans and Democrats?

Some state laws allow the political parties to set the dates.

What Time Will Voters Show Up?

In Nevada, caucus locations will open for check-in at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Voters, who must be in line by noon to participate, typically will gather at public venues close to their homes—most likely a school, community center, firehouse or place of worship. At-large precincts at casinos along the Las Vegas Strip are designed to accommodate shift workers who aren't able to return home during the designated hours to participate in their caucuses.

In South Carolina, Republican voters can cast their ballots at their local polling locations between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern time.

What's Going On With the Candidates?

The stakes are high in both races. Nevada is more demographically diverse than the mostly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Polls among Democrats show the two candidates in a virtual tie. The competition has tightened in recent weeks amid the activity in the other early-nominating states. Nevada had been thought to be a shoo-in state for Clinton among organized labor and Latino voters. But the question remains whether she can bounce back after her defeat in New Hampshire on February 9.

In the Republican race, a poll published Wednesday showed Trump trailing in a major national poll for the first time in four months, 2 points behind Cruz. But he maintains a lead over his five challengers in South Carolina. In the state, Cruz and Rubio follow the billionaire in second and third place, respectively. Rubio this week scored a key endorsement from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Are Results Posted?

Results from the Nevada caucuses will be available on a rolling basis at NVCaucuses.com. The timing of the outcomes depends on each precinct. The secretary of state's office doesn't plan to post the outcomes.

Voters in South Carolina can follow along at SCVotes.org. A representative from the elections division at the secretary of state's office said results will be posted as soon as the totals are sent on Saturday.

Have There Been Problems With Caucus-Counting in Nevada?

Yes, but historically it's been with the GOP. Republicans will caucus in Nevada next week. Their process differs from that of the Democrats, as there isn't a viability threshold and caucus-goers use paper ballots instead of physically forming groups around a room.

What Happens Next?

The Republican race moves to Nevada, where the party's caucuses will take place on February 23. The Democrats will head to South Carolina for their primary on February 27.

A GOP debate is scheduled in between, on February 25 in Houston.

How to Follow Voting Results in Nevada, South Carolina | U.S.