Mostly happy Democrats streamed steadily out of the Thomas & Mack Center throughout the day Saturday, seemingly astonished at the smooth proceedings of the Clark County party convention.
"Thank you!" they called out to volunteer Marie Bearse as they walked out the door.
"That was so easy! So organized! Totally different from last time!" they said.
Saturday's re-convention was a marked contrast from the first attempt to hold the event, on Feb. 23, which had to be shut down when turnout that should have been anticipated overwhelmed the facilities at Bally's.
And so, seven weeks after the rest of the state's Democrats elected county-level delegates to next month's state party convention, Clark County on Saturday selected the 2,463 people it will send. Of those, 54 percent are Hillary Clinton supporters and 46 percent are Barack Obama supporters.
The result was not a major shift from the Jan. 19 caucuses, where precinct delegates were elected to the county conventions. On Jan. 19, Clinton got 55.5 percent of the vote and Obama got 44.5 percent.
Obama was stronger in northern and rural Nevada. In the other 16 county conventions, Obama got 57 percent of the state delegates, Clinton 43 percent.
Clinton picked up 1,330 delegates to the state convention Saturday, while Obama got 1,133. At the state convention, Obama stands to have 1,645 delegates, while Clinton will have 1,718.
Participants from both camps expressed satisfaction with the streamlined convention, which took most people less than 10 minutes to get in and out of.
"This is so much better," said Obama supporter Kenia Leon, 27. "I was one of the people at Bally's. We'll see how Reno (the state convention) goes, but it looks like they really did get their stuff together."
Correan Baker, 60, added, "Whoever reorganized this did a wonderful job. This is what they should have done in the first place."
Saturday's event was more like an Election Day than a convention. Participants walked around the concourse of the arena, first registering at alphabetized stations in the first half of the circle, then voting for their candidate at one of 150 voting machines on loan from the Clark County Election Department and ending up back where they started at the front doors.
Clinton's supporters seemed more wishful than confident that their candidate, whose path to the nomination has seemed to narrow since her win in Nevada, could win the race.
"I'm still hoping," said 65-year-old Clinton supporter Gloria Colon. "Obama is a brilliant young man, but I don't know if he can beat (Republican nominee John) McCain."
State Sen. Steven Horsford, leader of Obama's Nevada campaign, said Saturday's process satisfied his concerns about fairness and would help the party regain the good will lost in February.
"People want to participate in the democratic process, but it shouldn't be as difficult as it was on February 23," he said. "The campaigns, working with the party, were able to restore people's confidence in the democratic process."
Most of the confusion Saturday surrounded the slates of potential state delegates, with participants frustrated that they couldn't know until voting was over whether they should reserve rooms in Reno for the May 17 state convention.
The slates were drawn up by the two campaigns on a first-come basis. Of the 7,363 precinct delegates to the convention, 2,463 will go on to be delegates to the state convention.
Willa Kohn, a 73-year-old Clinton supporter, demanded to know why she got to cast only one vote -- a yes or no on the Clinton slate of thousands of delegates, ranked in order -- rather than voting for individual delegates.
"You're voting for the slate," said Bearse, a Democratic Party volunteer for decades who spent most of Saturday on her feet answering questions.
"Well, how do I know who's on the slate?" Kohn said. "Why didn't we get to choose?"
Bearse located Kohn on the slate, No. 508, and told her that meant she'd probably get to attend the state convention if she wanted to, but couldn't know for sure until the county convention was over.
"I really want to see the process through," she said, adding that while she was pleased with the smooth running of the do-over convention, she felt she hadn't gotten enough information throughout the process from the state Democratic Party.
Voting was held Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Traffic was steady throughout the day and never enough to cause a line after the polls opened.
The state convention-goers will elect most of Nevada's national convention delegates. That's a tiny proportion of the more than 4,000 total national delegates, but in the current deadlocked state of the race between Obama and Clinton, every one counts.
After the Feb. 23 debacle, the two campaigns worked with the county and state party to ensure a result they could consider fair and to make sure no national delegates slipped away from their grasp.
For the Democrats, the worry is that the chaos of Feb. 23 -- and of the Jan. 19 caucus before it -- might have frustrated newcomers to the process, thus squandering an opportunity to build the party at the grass-roots level.
Norma Colwell, a 70-year-old Clinton supporter from Henderson, said she had seen that happen.
"All of my neighbors, they don't want anything to do with it after that mess," she said. "They had a bad experience with the caucus and it's all the same thing to them."
But Colwell didn't see that ill will hurting her party's chances in November. "They're still going to go vote," she said.
Party officials said there were a couple of dozen people who had problems being credentialed for the convention. The party was working with them on a case-by-case basis, allowing them to fill out forms that would let them be delegates if spots opened up, though that is unlikely.
Clark County Democratic Chairman John Hunt, who came under intense criticism for poor planning of the Feb. 23 convention, was upbeat. Asked whether he thought participants would come away from Saturday's event feeling better about the party than before, he said, "How wouldn't they?"
"It's not without some difficulties," Hunt added. "But I think it's been proven today that the will of the people in Clark County is strong to change our country."
Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, struck a relaxed pose in jeans, sandals and sunglasses as she came through the voting area with her son, 8-year-old Aidan. She said she was for Obama.
"It's very, very smooth, very well organized," she observed. "Everything's well marked. People are in and out quickly."
After the last convention, "People were frustrated, but I think they were also glad that so many people turned out," she said. "I think that today's turnout shows that that excitement hasn't dwindled."
Contact reporter Molly Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919.