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The Nevada caucuses: How they work

February 04, 2012|By Seema Mehta
  • Supporters look on as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in Henderson, Nev.
Supporters look on as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

Reporting from Las Vegas — Republican voters will gather across Nevada Saturday to help pick the GOP nominee, the first state in the West to have an early voice in presidential politics with 28 delegates at stake.

But it's a complicated process, far removed from the pro-forma primaries voters in California and most states are used to, and even more complicated than the better-known Iowa caucuses.

Tens of thousands of registered Republicans will gather at 125 caucus locations across the state. Start times vary by county, with the earliest gatherings beginning at 9 a.m. and all but one finished by mid-afternoon.

A special Saturday evening meeting in Clark County, for observant Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists, was recently added and has been the source of controversy because it is linked to a casino tycoon who has spent millions of dollars backing Newt Gingrich.

After attending to party business, such as picking delegates to the county GOP conventions and discussing the party platform, the presidential contest will be held. Each candidate can have a supporter give a two-minute speech on their behalf, and then voters will cast anonymous ballots.

The reporting of results is staggered. The results from 16 of Nevada's 17 counties is scheduled to be released at 5 p.m. But the results from Clark County, home to Las Vegas and more than half of the state's registered Republican voters, won't be announced until after 7 p.m.

Mitt Romney is expected to win the contest, and the latest polling shows Gingrich coming in second and Ron Paul and Rick Santorum battling it out for third place. But with the delegates awarded proportionally and complicated rules dictating how the delegates are meted out, every vote counts.

Just ask Hillary Clinton – she won the popular vote in the 2008 Democratic caucuses but President Obama received three more delegates than she did.

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