Nevada, like Iowa and other states, used the caucus rather than a primary to select its candidates.
Nevada Democrats are now poised to “roll out” a new caucus methodology for 2020. They’re going virtual.
Poor turnout is cited as the primary reason for going digital, say Democrats. It’s known as “tele-caucusing” and will allow participants to essentially link up via phone, Google Hangouts, and a Microsoft app called Skype, one of the most popular communication tools used by professionals today.
As you might know, a caucus demands more of a voter. With a caucus, the vote must show up at a predetermined location and engage in position and policy debates (so to speak) about the various competing candidates. In 2016, the Nevada presidential caucuses were two-hour events.
With virtual caucusing, participants no longer need to travel to a pre-determined location, wait in line, secure a seat, and spend hours in discussion about the various candidates, then drive home after the event ends. Some participants have spent up to 8-hours engaged in a caucus. Advocates of digital caucusing, say going virtual will increase participation. that remains to be seen.
Iowa also plans to switch to virtual caucuses in 2020, and participants must be registered and use a unique login credential to access the meetings.
It’s uncertain if the virtual caucus will draw more participants, and the technology and security are still unproven. After all, participants will be prompted to travel through a labyrinth of digital selections for candidates, languages (three will be offered), and it looks like there will be some limitations on how many candidates the caucus participants may select. There will even be rules governing recounts.
My jury is out, for now. However, my mind remains open if the digital integrity can be maintained and the system demonstrates its superiority. For now, I’m a get-off-your-butt believer in voters showing up to have their voices heard. Then too, what’s wrong with simply voting in a primary and eliminating the caucus model altogether. Caucusing was designed to bring voters into contact with one another to publicly hash out their opinions in front of candidates.
Despite the use of multi-factor authentication, I remain skeptical about security. What’s wrong with a paper ballot, after all?
Digital voting can lead to new types of accusations of irregularities, and such accusations often lead candidates into court. Internet access, bandwidth disruptions, system failures, credential malfunctions, can create an environment of contention and confusion.
Why not just let the voters show up, like the old days.
Virtual Caucus Resources:
CNN Article: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/10/politics/how-does-virtual-caucusing-work-2020/index.html
Iowa Caucus Guidelines: Download