The Nevada caucuses: How do they work; how many delegates will be awarded?

Saturday will see voters choosing candidates in two states as the races for the Democratic and Republican nominations for president heat up.

In South Carolina, Republicans will go to the polls to vote in the state’s GOP primary. Out West, Nevadans will caucus to show support for their candidate. At the end of the day, 93 national convention delegates will be awarded – 50 Republican delegates  in South Carolina, and 43 Democratic ones in Nevada.

Nevada is the third state where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT.),  will meet as the 2016 election season moves into full swing. Clinton squeaked out a victory in Iowa at the first of the month. Sanders won handily in  New Hampshire a week-and-a-half ago.

The race for delegates, once considered Clinton's to lose, has tightened in many states, and the candidates have begun to throw elbows on the campaign trail.

In an interview with the BET network set to air Sunday, Sanders accused Clinton of cozying up to President Obama and praising his record in an effort to sway African American voters. At a rally Thursday, Clinton said Sanders was not interested in being a Democrat until it came time to run for president in 2016 (she was booed by the audience there).

Sanders has waged an impressive charge in Nevada, closing a 17-point Clinton advantage in the polls there coming out of the Iowa caucuses to pull into a virtual tie with her. A CNN Poll of Polls released Wednesday showed Clinton’s support at 48 percent with Sanders at 47 percent. The five polls used to get the poll average were conducted during an eight-day period from Feb. 10-17.

Nevada will be the first state in which Sanders will face a more diverse electorate. In Nevada,  65 percent of those registered are white. 

Here’s how the Nevada caucuses work

There are 17 counties in Nevada, 1,700 Democratic precincts and 250 caucus sites — generally schools, churches,  community centers, except in some spots in Las Vegas where they are held in casinos.

You do not have to be a Democrat, or even be registered, before you come to caucus. In fact, a Republican could go to their neighborhood caucus site Saturday, change their party affiliation and caucus for either Clinton or Sanders.

According to a story from, 30,000 Democrats registered on the caucus day in 2008.

As in Iowa, those who caucus will break into groups for the candidate they support. If the number of people in any group is under 15 percent of the total number of those at the caucus, they can do one of two things – join with another candidate’s group, or not participate at all.

The caucuses begin at 11 a.m. (PT), and according to Nevada law, as long as you are in line by noon, you are allowed to caucus. There is no set time for the caucuses to end, though they are expected to be over by early Saturday afternoon.

There are 43 delegates at stake, but only about half of them, 23 candidates, are directly tied to the results of Saturday's caucuses. Eight of the delegates are party leaders and officials and are considered “superdelegates.” Superdelegates may vote for any candidate they choose to come national convention time. They generally “declare” for the candidate they will support prior to the convention. Of the eight superdelegates in Nevada, three have declared for Hillary Clinton and one has declared for Bernie Sanders. 

The remaining 12 delegates are considered “at large.” Their support will be decided by a state convention.

If there is a tie in voting for delegates, there is a process to break it.  Nevada being the home of Las Vegas,  there are likely a few decks of cards thereabouts. According to officials,  a tie will be broken by drawing cards. The high card wins.

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