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EDITORIAL: NV GOP shows its cluelessness with plan to confuse its voters

The biggest winners in the Nevada GOP presidential selection process are Nevada Democrats.

Last weekend, state Republicans met in Winnemucca to determine how the state’s presidential delegates will be awarded. State law dictates there will be a presidential primary on Feb. 6. Nevada Republican chairman Michael McDonald led an effort to instead hold a presidential caucus two days later. At its central committee meeting, Republicans approved his plan.

That may seem convoluted, but the complications are just beginning. Under the rules adopted last weekend, GOP presidential candidates who add their names to the state-run primary are prohibited from participating in the caucus.

Practically, this is a mess. Every Republican voter will be sent a primary ballot in the mail. The state will also run early voting and Election Day voting sites. But those results for Republicans will have no bearing on who wins party delegates. That will be determined two days later during the caucus, a more complex process.

In addition, the caucus and the primary won’t even feature the same candidates. Don’t expect Donald Trump diehards to be happy when they receive a mail ballot without his name on it.

This will no doubt confuse many registered Republicans. A GOP candidate will win the primary, and the average voter might consider the matter closed. But two days later, another candidate will win the party-run caucus and be awarded the delegates in play.

It’s obvious this complex process is intended to benefit Mr. Trump, the candidate favored by Mr. McDonald and other party leaders. Republicans also passed a motion to prevent super PACs from participating in the caucus. That’s a slap at Nevada Back Down, the active super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. That group stopped door knocking here when it became obvious the state GOP wasn’t providing a level playing field.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Trump committed to joining the caucus shortly after the state GOP passed its plan. The only other confirmed participant is businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has linked himself closely to Mr. Trump during the campaign.

Nevada holds the third-earliest contest on the Republican nominating calendar. The other early states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, have leveraged their prime spots into frequent visits from presidential candidates. But the caucus-primary controversy has prevented Nevada from doing the same.

This is a missed opportunity. The state party could have used the interest in this contest to boost its voter registration numbers. Competing campaigns would have even done much of the work. The GOP could have tested its new push to get its voters to vote early and by mail. Instead, Nevada will be ignored, and Republican voters will be left confused.

Political parties have the right to select their nominees any way they deem proper. But this fiasco highlights how a state GOP that has had little electoral success of late continues to grope around in the dark.

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