Nevada joins Iowa in "virtual caucus" movement for 2020 presidential race

By Eleanor Watson

/ CBS News

In Nevada, Democrats who won't be able to attend the February 2020 presidential caucuses in person will have some new options, thanks to the Nevada Democratic Party's new virtual caucus plan, which was unveiled Monday.

Virtual caucus-goers will be able participate by using a cell phone, a landline, Google Hangouts or Skype to call a number given to them by the state party. Once dialed in, the participant will enter a unique login credential given during virtual caucus registration in January 2020.

The party will host two days of virtual caucuses which will be telephone-based in addition to four days of early voting. The traditional precinct caucuses will still take place as usual on the Las Vegas strip.

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Nevada joins Iowa in establishing virtual caucuses. Iowa, which holds the first nominating contest of the 2020 presidential cycle, will hold six virtual caucuses, in addition to the in-person Feb. 3 caucuses.

The party is partnering with Stones' Phones, a Democratic tele-consulting firm, to conduct the virtual caucuses. Here's how the virtual caucuses will be conducted: The participant will call the number, and an automated moderator will list the candidates — in English, Spanish and also Tagalog.

The participant would then say or press the number that corresponds to his or her preferred candidate, and will have a chance to edit the choice immediately or at the end of the call. The party won't know how many candidates will be listed until the state's presidential filing deadline in November.

The results of the virtual caucus will be counted along with the results of the traditional precinct caucuses to be held on February 22, 2019. The party is developing an app to assist caucus chairs on Caucus Day to tabulate the results. The party will release the raw totals on caucus night.

Molly Forgey, the spokeswoman for the state party, told reporters in a press call that the party is working closely with the Democratic National Committee's security team to prevent fraud.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez said he was proud of the Nevada Democrats for expanding access. "Our democracy works best when more people can participate, not fewer," he said in a press release. "Nevada Democrats are working to energize our grassroots and ensure that the voice of the people rings loud and clear on Caucus Day."

First published on July 8, 2019 / 5:09 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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