Nevada Takes First Steps to Dissolve State Caucuses Following Disastrous 2020 Effort

Democratic lawmakers in Nevada introduced legislation on Monday that took steps to move the state from a caucus system to a primary system for choosing presidential nominees.

Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus Speaker Jason Frierson alongside Assemblywomen Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Brittney Miller introduced Assembly Bill 126 on Monday in an effort to move the state from a caucus to a primary system.

Under the bill, Nevada would switch to a presidential primary system administered by the secretary of state and county clerks, instead of the caucuses run by political parties.

The new bill would set the presidential primary for the Tuesday "immediately preceding the last Tuesday in January," with 10 days of early voting and the option of same-day voter registration. The primary would be a separate election from the one held in June.

Nevada is currently the third state in the presidential nominating process, following the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries. If Assembly Bill 126 is passed, Nevada would be placed at the beginning of the primary calendar for the 2024 election.

A voter returns an activation card after
A voter is shown above returning an activation card after voting on November 3, 2020 in Las Vegas. Nevada took steps to move from a caucus to primary system on Monday. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images/Getty

Frierson said in a statement on Monday that the legislation "will lay the groundwork for Nevada to become the first state in the nation in the presidential nominating process."

"Nevada's diverse population and first-hand experience in issues relating to climate change, public lands, immigration, and health care provide a unique voice that deserves to be heard first," Frierson added.

"Nevada made great strides to make caucuses more accessible, but the nature of a caucus limits the ability to make it more inclusive," Frierson continued. "The time has come for Nevada to move to a primary and to move to the front of the line when it comes to nominating a president."

Speaker @JasonFrierson released this statement on #AB126, which shifts Nevada from a caucus to a primary during the presidential nominating process #NVLeg

— Assembly Democrats (@nvassemblydems) February 15, 2021

Nevada currently uses a caucus system to choose delegates for each political party's national convention. The Democratic and Republican parties directly manage their respective caucuses, as opposed to state and local election offices.

The process has been criticized in recent years as some say it leads to fewer people having a say in the contests due to the caucuses not being in a person's normal voting place and only taking place over a few hours.

Calls to shift away from the caucus system occurred following the 2020 Democratic primaries after the Nevada Democratic caucus was criticized for irregularities in the early vote and other data.

Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy commended the effort as "a critical next step" in a statement on Monday.

"Last year, Democrats did incredible work to make our caucuses more accessible by including early voting and introducing multilingual trainings and materials, but the only way we can bring more voices into the process is by moving to a primary," McCurdy said.

"This legislation is yet another reason the Silver State deserves to be the first presidential nominating state in 2024," McCurdy added. "We are a majority-minority state with a strong union population, and the power structure of the country is moving west."

Newsweek reached out to the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus but didn't hear back in time for publication.