More than 18,000 Democrats turn out for first day of early voting in Nevada

Feb 16, 2020, 7:31 PM

Early voting turn out in Nevada...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 15: Voters wait in line to enter an early voting location at IBEW Local 357 to cast their votes in the Nevada Caucus February 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first time in the history, Nevadans have the option to vote early in the Democratic presidential caucuses that starts from today through the 18th, prior to the February 22nd caucus date. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NEVADA (CNN) — Nevada’s Democratic Party leadership is hoping a strong early turnout for its caucuses signals a successful showing this weekend.

More than 18,000 Democrats turn out for the first day of early voting in Nevada. Democratic caucusgoers participated in the first day of early voting in Nevada Saturday, the state party announced, a considerable turnout that Democrats celebrated even as some voters voiced concerns over long wait times.

Approximately 84,000 people participated in Nevada’s 2016 Democratic caucuses.

Speaking on Sunday to CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield, Nevada state Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy didn’t address the wait times but stated he was pleased by the enthusiasm and expects it to continue until early voting ends.

“I am really excited that Nevada Democrats really showed up on the first day, our historic first day of the early vote. We’re anticipating folks to continue to engage in this process from now until the 18th, when early vote ends and we’re looking forward to, you know, a significant turnout on caucus day as well,” McCurdy said.

He added that the party has been working “around the clock” to make sure the caucuses there don’t run into some of the same problems that happened in Iowa.

The Nevada State Democratic Party tweeted that more than 18,500 state Democrats participated in early voting Saturday. But wait times of more than three hours and a lack of volunteers at least one precinct had some voters worried about the state’s caucuses on February 22.

Debbie Curtis, a teacher in the state, told CNN Saturday she saw people walk away after waiting for an extended period of time at the Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.

“Hopefully they go someplace else to vote,” she said. “It’s just too important.”

The party, she contended, needs to realize “that this is huge and if they don’t do something that we could have another four years of Trump which ought to be frightening.”

CNN previously reported that caucus workers and presidential campaigns are worried about the lack of detail the state party is providing about how the results reporting process will work.

The state party will use a “caucus calculator,” as outlined in a memo released Thursday. Described as “user-friendly,” the calculator will be used to add early voting data into each precinct and calculate totals on caucus day, February 22, along with paper worksheets.

Speaking to reporters later Sunday, McCurdy said volunteers are “training on our caucus calculator right now.”

“[T]hey’re going to continue to be you know trained on the caucus calculator all the way up until, from now, all the way up until caucus day,” he said. “So we will be ready.”

On Saturday, there were 63 early caucus sites open statewide and on Sunday there were 24. By Monday, it will be down to 19, according to the state party.

Following early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada remains a valuable Democratic prize with powerful labor groups and a political machine built by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

This story has been updated to reflect the Nevada Democratic Party’s adjusted voter totals.

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More than 18,000 Democrats turn out for first day of early voting in Nevada