By Cynthia Sandoval
with Alexandra Rovacchi
It’s 6:20 p.m. on a cold Tuesday night at Wooster High School near downtown Reno. Republican caucus volunteer Penny Brock explains to attendees that if they don’t sign the registration list for the precinct, all votes will be discarded.
“Are you kidding me?!” said a voter.
“That’s the rule,” Brock says.
The high school quad was filled with people eager to participate in Nevada’s third ever Republican caucus. Despite the anticipation about participating, a number of attendees complained the caucus time was limited and the event was unorganized.
“I think it sucks because it is only from 5 to 8:30 and so people who have to work this time can’t participate in the process,” said Leo Chong, a Trump supporter. “I think a primary process would be better to give everyone a chance to vote.”
Chong said he rearranged his schedule to make sure he voted.
“My son can’t do his homework [since we are at the caucus]. He doesn’t have a babysitter at home, but I think it’s worth it.”
Nick Pavone, a 21-year-old undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he supports the concept of a caucus because it is informative and vital for undecided voters.
This sentiment was echoed by one of the caucus volunteers.
“We have to make sure people participate at the precinct caucus level; it’s a foundation of our government,” said Penny Brock. “If we don’t as Americans step up to participate, where will our government end up?”
Brock said she volunteered to help orchestrate the process in order to help those who want to vote.
Part of the disorganization came from the much larger than anticipated turnout among Republican voters for the caucus. Turnout this year was much higher than in 2012, when only 33,000 people voted. This year, 42,000 registered Republicans participated.
This was only the third caucus that Nevada has hosted, which may explain some of the frustration people felt in what was perceived to be a disorganized experience.
Nevertheless, caucus participation increased in the state. The national press focused on a flawed caucus process in the state, but more voters made time to exercise their civic duty.
And if you’re curious, Donald Trump won the Republican Nevada caucus; Hillary Clinton won the Democratic caucus, held Feb. 20.