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NPR Political Coverage

Democrats In Nevada Line Up For Their First-Ever Early Voting Caucus

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

While Americans wait for Nevada's caucuses this Saturday, NPR's Art Silverman talked with Democrats lining up to pick their candidates at a couple of early vote sites. Here's a glimpse of the state's first-ever early caucus experience.

ART SILVERMAN, BYLINE: How do you caucus early? Well, first it means you fill out a ballot with your preference.

ALEXANDER MARKS: You're going to see first choice, second choice, third choice, fourth choice and fifth choice.

SILVERMAN: Alexander Marks (ph) is addressing the people waiting in line to get into the precinct at the Nevada State Education Association headquarters.

MARKS: Today has been very busy. I think lines are long. Lines are steady. I think - they're trickling down now. They're not so bad. But we've had them around the building most of the weekend since Saturday.

SILVERMAN: I went around asking people why it was worth waiting in line. Jennifer Ortiz (ph) says...

JENNIFER ORTIZ: So I could get it out of the way (laughter).

SILVERMAN: Looks like it's moving pretty fast.

ORTIZ: That sounds good, then.

SILVERMAN: Loriann Bradford (ph) says work will keep her from caucusing Saturday.

LORIANN BRADFORD: Well, I babysit, and this was just a convenient time. So I'm grateful that they had multiple times to go.

SILVERMAN: And you weren't afraid about long lines that you heard about.

BRADFORD: Well, I was concerned, but I'll do what it takes (laughter).

SILVERMAN: Then across town, in an industrial area, there's a line of people waiting to cast ballots at a precinct located at the Culinary Union headquarters. Las Vegas native Alan Rogers (ph) was a Republican until 2016. He sat out his first Democratic caucus because he didn't think his vote mattered. He feels different this year.

ALAN ROGERS: Yeah. Yeah. It really counts this time, and I honestly think if we can just make it a straight vote so that it's convenient for people, then we'll matter even more.

SILVERMAN: Rogers hopes the success and popularity of early voting convinces officials to abandon caucuses altogether in favor of a primary election in the future.

While he has strategic thoughts about the caucuses, John Ewell (ph) has personal ones.

JOHN EWELL: I did it last time, and it drove me crazy.

SILVERMAN: Then there are those who enjoy the caucus process. Charlotte Lowe (ph) is one of them. She's only here because her husband wants to get the whole thing out of the way. They're both wearing Bernie Sanders T-shirts. She's sorry to have to cast her choices now without the art of persuasion usually involved in a caucus.

CHARLOTTE LOWE: Even though we might come with a shirt on, you might be able to sway our vote, you know what I mean? So it just kind of depends. We were...

SILVERMAN: You could change shirts midway through the...

LOWE: Yes. And who knows? Maybe there's one underneath here (laughter), right?

SILVERMAN: But for most of the people I met, having the chance to list their choices and have that be done with is not only good enough; it's easier. This early voting ends today. For anyone who wants to be swayed or do some swaying, there's always the caucus on Saturday.

Art Silverman, NPR News, Las Vegas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.