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Nevada caucuses: A Vegas-style tie break, and some precincts reporting trouble

Drawn cards helped settle a tie, a backup method included texting a photo and one precinct didn't have any voters.

LAS VEGAS — Precinct captain Nadia Albulet says a deck of cards helped break a tie in very Las Vegas fashion.

The Las Vegas entertainer said Saturday that Sen. Bernie Sanders led the precinct at Lucille S. Rogers Elementary School. But, she says, her king of spades trumped a queen of diamonds to get the fourth delegate for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

At Buttigieg’s after-caucus rally in a packed room at the Springs Preserve, she said she was motivated by climate change to do more than just vote this year.

Buttigieg delivered a blistering attack against rival Sanders, who he accuses of leading a divisive movement that has furthered “the toxic tone of our politics.”

The former South Bend Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful made the remarks while addressing supporters in Las Vegas, shortly after Sanders won the Nevada caucuses.

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Two of the four caucus precincts at a middle school the northern Nevada city of Gardnerville had trouble getting through on the phone hotline to report results.

Kimi Cole, the chair of the Douglas County Democrats who was the site lead at the school, said her precinct and another tried to call the hotline after their caucuses wrapped up early afternoon but instead of being put on hold they were met with a tone that seemed to indicate the number wasn’t working.

“I dialed two or three times, couldn’t get through. My friend dialed, couldn’t get through,” Cole said.

A third person at the caucus site was able to get through and report results right after, but Cole said she and the other precinct leader decided to use one of the Nevada Democratic Party’s backup methods by texting a photo of their caucus reporting worksheets.

Cole said the data was also transmitted by the iPad calculator, which seemed to run smoothly for everyone at that site.

An anomaly was discovered as caucus votes were being counted up at the site on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno: one of the precincts didn't have any voters.

Credit: AP
Casino workers hold up presidential preference cards as they support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a presidential caucus at the Bellagio hotel-casino, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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Amy Travis, a Bernie Sanders supporter from a neighboring precinct, was given the task of filling in the "zeroes" next to all the candidates names in precinct 7321.

She thought it was strange that no one voted there either during early voting or at Saturday's caucus. So she got out her phone and found a map of the precinct to find it consists entirely of a 600-acre county park just west of the UNR campus.

Austin Daly, the site leader at the UNR campus, says he thinks there used to be two houses in the precinct along the edge of San Rafael Park. But he says they might be vacant now or at least aren't occupied by residents who wanted to cast a ballot in the Democratic caucus.

Daly says the precinct's lone delegate to the county convention will be recorded as "uncommitted." Once they get to the county convention, a delegate will be elected to that uncommitted slot.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is a Democrat who's not endorsing a candidate. He says the state “represents an opportunity for these candidates to demonstrate their appeal to a larger swath of our country.” All eyes are on the process after the lead-off Iowa caucuses yielded a muddy result marked by error.

And, when two candidates end up in a tie? According to one precinct leader, it comes down to the luck of the draw.

Several hundred voters and about a dozen observers were crowded into a site on the UNR campus when things got underway. The temporary precinct captain, Becky Cohen, explained the process and said everything will be transparent, with results at each stage written on poster boards stuck to the walls.

She closed by holding up a deck of cards and saying, “If there's a tie, God forbid, this is what we do. It's Nevada.”

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