CARSON CITY — A Republican-backed bill that would allow political parties to scrap Nevada’s presidential caucus system in favor of a secret-ballot primary was resurrected Thursday and passed out by an Assembly committee.
Senate Bill 421 was defeated in a vote in the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on Wednesday, but was brought back and approved on a 6-4 vote with Democrats opposed. It now goes to the full Assembly.
The bill would give political parties the option to hold a presidential preference primary election on the last Tuesday in February, while leaving the primary for state and local political contests in June. A party could chose to opt out and use the caucus system instead.
Republican supporters argue that changing how Nevada voters choose their favorite presidential contender would protect the Silver State’s early influence in the presidential selection process and encourage more voter participation.
It would also dilute the influence of grass-roots party activists who are more motivated to turn out for precinct caucuses and in recent years have taken control of the state Republican Party, much to the chagrin of more moderate Republicans such as Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The bill as amended would have the state pay the cost of a primary, with costs estimated about $500,000 statewide for a single party primary. There would be no early voting or sample ballots. Polls would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Absentee and overseas voting would be allowed.
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