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Nevada is the next stop on the presidential nominating calendar

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The next stop on the presidential nominating calendar takes us to Nevada. Voters there will be the first in the West to cast a ballot for who they want to represent them as president. In fact, registered Republicans have two different options to do so. It's a new, unusual process for the state, and it's creating a lot of confusion for voters there. Lucia Starbuck with member Station KUNR in Reno is here to tell us all about it. So primary and a caucus happening in Nevada. Why both just a couple of days apart?

LUCIA STARBUCK, BYLINE: Yes. That's right. So the primary is run by the state and that will happen on February 6. The main Republican left standing in that race is former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. And then two days later, the party-run caucus will take place with former President Donald Trump on that ballot. There were some other nationally known GOP candidates running against them who are going to be on both of the ballots but have since dropped out, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. What's important to note is that Nikki Haley will not be getting any delegates. It's up to the party on how to award delegates and they've chosen the caucus. At this point, it's almost guaranteed all of Nevada's delegates will go to Trump.

MARTÍNEZ: So if the caucus is where you'd go to get delegates for the party's nomination, do we know why Nikki Haley chose to run in the primary?

STARBUCK: Well, she actually made her decision based on the law passed by Nevada's legislature that the state would transition to a primary. Trump chose to follow the state party and chase the delegate count. We reached out to her campaign to find out why she made this choice, but we haven't heard back. And the Republican Party determined that candidates who filed for the primary were not allowed to participate in the caucus, so candidates could only be in one or the other.

MARTÍNEZ: Is Nikki Haley even going to Nevada?

STARBUCK: Nikki Haley is really focused on South Carolina, where she used to be the governor. We haven't seen her in Nevada and not sure if she'll stop by before the primary.

MARTÍNEZ: So OK, why did Nevada's GOP then decide to choose a caucus?

STARBUCK: So I spoke to Nevada GOP leadership and some of the reasons they gave me is the results will be immediate, whereas the primary will use mail-in ballots, which take some time to be counted and signature cured. The caucus will also require voter ID, something that is not checked in most cases in Nevada elections. Some of the rules by the party stemmed from concerns about widespread voter fraud. I should note Nevada election officials have said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Nevada.

MARTÍNEZ: And how are Republican voters feeling about all these changes?

STARBUCK: Well, despite outreach by both the party and Nevada secretary of state, voters are very, very confused, and there's a lot of misinformation. Some voters are hearing it the first time from me when I interview them that Haley won't get any delegates. I spoke to Luke Paschall, who owns a small plumbing company in Reno. He cast his primary mail-in ballot for Haley.

LUKE PASCHALL: Nevada just doesn't seem to care about being involved in the process.

STARBUCK: Paschall wonders what's even the point of having two different days of voting. Many voters in Nevada, particularly Never Trumpers, are feeling this way.

MARTÍNEZ: That's democracy reporter Lucia Starbuck with member station KUNR. Thank you very much.

STARBUCK: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Lucia Starbuck