FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kirsten Searer
Thursday, January 17, 2008
STATEMENT FROM NEVADA STATE PARTY CHAIR JILL DERBY
"JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF A FAIR DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS THAT INCLUDES WORKERS"
"Today, U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan, of the District of Nevada ruled in favor of the caucus process the Nevada Democratic Party established last year and maintains the right of workers and minorities to participate in the Nevada caucuses at their work sites," State Party Chair Jill Derby said today. "We began this process to highlight the participation of westerners, minorities, including Hispanics, and labor in choosing the Democratic nominee for president and today that effort was affirmed by the courts.
"Despite the characterization of some, this process is fair to all Nevadans, union member or not, whether they work within a 2.5 mile radius of the Las Vegas Strip or will caucus at their home precincts. With 520 sites across the state, we look forward to having fair, inclusive and decisive caucuses at 11am on Saturday, January 19th with participation of a record breaking number of Democrats."
Nevada Caucus At-Large Precincts:
| Number of Precincts:
Number of Caucus Sites: 520
Number of At-Large Sites: 9
Number of plaintiffs who voted for the Caucus plan: 4
Legal precedent has established the rights of political parties to set their own rules for delegate selection in the choosing of a nominee. The caucus is a legitimate process in selecting a nomination.
It is in the Nevada Democratic Party’s interest and our responsibility to encourage as much participation as possible in this process. The Party has taken steps to make sure the precinct caucuses are as accessible as possible and to encourage participation.
To that end:
• Caucuses are in 520 public locations statewide, primarily in public buildings. In fact, there are more caucus locations than there were polling locations in 2006. At Large precincts count for just 9 of those locations.
• The Nevada Democratic Party has taken unprecedented steps to advertise the caucus and the locations.
• The Nevada Democratic Party included additional At-Large precincts that were approved by the Rules and By-Laws Committee of the Democratic National Committee to allow shift workers to participate who would not otherwise be have an opportunity to have their voices count.
The At-Large Precincts:
Southern Nevada has a unique economy with a significant number of shift workers on the Strip.
• Recognizing the 24-7 economy in Nevada and the burden it would place on shift workers – many of whom are minorities – who work Saturdays and have difficulty getting on and off the Strip corridor, the At Large Precincts were designed specifically to accommodate these shift workers who work during and within one hour of the caucus and could not return home to caucus in their home precincts.
• The At Large Precincts are open to all shift workers within a 2.5 mile radius – union workers, nonunion workers, construction workers, gas station attendants, restaurant workers and others.
The At Large Precincts were developed in an open and transparent process.
• The At-Large precincts were developed in full consultation with the Democratic National Committee and the allocation rules have been approved by the 9-person Delegate Selection Committee of the State Democratic Party and the 30-member Rules and By-Laws Committee of the Democratic National Committee.
• Each of the presidential campaigns was fully informed about the rules on May 2, 2007, and throughout the process.
• Allied organizations INCLUDING THE NSEA political director were informed on October 4, 2007.
• To ensure full transparency, the Delegate Selection Rules with the allocations for At-Large Precincts are posted on the Democratic Party website and were updated as of September 24, 2007.
The At-Large Precincts Delegate Allocation is fully compliant with Nevada State Law and is the fairest allocation of delegates.
• First, it is important to understand that the formulas for At Large Caucuses and the voting precincts are based on different premises, one on registration and one attendance. Therefore, it is not a fair representation to simply compare the number of delegates in an average precinct to the number of delegates to an At Large caucus.
• The voting precincts are based on the number of registered Democrats in that precinct. So the number of delegates is based on registration, not on attendance.
• The At Large precincts by necessity must be based on attendance. You can’t base it on registered voters because these caucus attendees come from all over and there are no set geographic boundaries.
• To apply the precinct allocation ratio would significantly under represent the voice of shift workers, a significant percentage of whom are minority, because the At Large delegates are based on attendance and not registration.
• The allocation ratios assigned to at-large precincts were derived from an objective formula set out in Nevada law and follow precedent in Nevada as best as possible. NRS 293.133 outlines the delegate allocation based on size of county in a sliding scale. The statutes themselves give more weight to attendees in smaller counties by granting lower ratios – the intent and purpose of which is to ensure under represented areas/communities, etc… still have a meaningful voice in the process.
• Any other allocation formula would have been arbitrary.
• When you apply the allocation formula to the At Large precincts, the potential weight of a caucus attendee relative to the number of delegates in a voting precinct is actually greater than those in at-large precincts because the voting precincts have a guaranteed number of delegates based on registration regardless of attendance.
• For example, if 1 person shows up to an at-large precinct, that at large precinct receives 1 delegate. If 1 person shows up at a 28-delegate precinct (based on the voter registration of that precinct), that one person gets to allocate all 28 delegates to their preferred candidate.
• The projected maximum percentage of delegates from At Large precincts is slightly over 6%.
The arguments used by the Plaintiffs to describe the potential weight and impact of the at large precincts are simply wrong and taken out of thin air to distort the fairness built into the allocation formulas.
• Comparing the weight of an attendee at a precinct caucus and an at-large caucus is like comparing apples to oranges.
• The number of delegates allocated to voting precinct caucuses is assigned based on voter registration and is fixed, regardless of attendance on caucus day.
• The number of delegates allocated to at-large caucuses starts at zero and goes up in proportion to the number of attendees – the more attendees, the higher the ratio to create a delegate.
If 40,000 people turn out for the caucus statewide then the ratio of caucus goers to delegates is 4 to 1.EXAMPLE II:
That ratio is greater than the ratio for the lowest turnout range for an at large caucus. If 400 or fewer people show up, then it will take 5 attendees to choose 1 delegate.
If we have an amazing turnout of 70,000 the ratio of caucus goers to delegates statewide is 6 to 1.EXAMPLE III:
Such a large turnout would indicate moderate to heavy turnout in the at-large precincts meaning it would take 8 attendees to choose 1 delegate for an at-large precinct of 401 to 600 people; 10 to 1 for at-large precincts of 601 to 800 people; or 15 to 1 for precincts of 801-1400 people.
Those numbers are all larger than the 6 to 1 ratio for precinct caucuses.
If the opponents had their way, and at-large delegates were awarded on a 50 to 1 basis (as delegates are apportioned 50 to 1 based on voter registration in Clark County precincts and not turnout) then in example 1 at-large caucus goers would count 12 times less than caucus goers in precincts and 8 times less in example 2.The Results:
The tables below are based on two realistic turnout scenarios, and
then the highest turnout in a Nevada Democratic Primary from 2006. It should
noted that in the 2006 Primary, Democrats could cast absentee ballots for 30 days before the election, cast ballots using dozens early voting stations
for two weeks before the election, or for 12 hours on Election Day.
The ratios are based on the average “weight” of attendees to delegates. For example, in a voting precinct with 10 delegate and 50 attendees the ratio would be 5:1. These ratios are the average of all such ratios for any precinct caucus based on the three turnout scenarios.
Total Voting Precinct Turnout and Ratios
Turnout Statewide Clark County
40,000 4 to 1 4 to 1
70,000 6 to 1 7 to 1
118,484 11 to 1 11 to 1
Possible At-Large Attendance and Ratios (Per Site)
Attendance Ratio Min Delegates Max Delegates
1 – 400 5 to 1 1 80
401 – 600 8 to 1 50 75
601 – 800 10 to 1 60 80
801 – 1400 15 to 1 53 93
Given the results above, if turnout reached the record turnout of the 2006 Primary, which is extremely unlikely, the ratio of attendees to delegates statewide or in Clark County would be 11 to 1. The realistic ratios statewide are 4 to 1 or 6 to 1; and, in Clark County, 4 to 1 and 7 to 1.
The at-large caucuses’ ratios range from as low as 5 to 1 to as high as 15 to 1. The average ratio of that range is 10 to 1.
Ultimately, given the only realistic turnout scenarios in Clark County, the weight of an average caucus attendee in any voting precinct in Clark County or in the state would be greater than that of an average at-large caucus attendee.
8/19/2006 DNC Approves Rules and Bylaws Committee Recommendation of Nevada as an Early Caucus
3/1/2007 Draft Plan to be voted on by the State Central Committee Made
Available to Public for comment on 3/31/2007 on the party website
• No public comments were received.
• This plan clearly stated at-large caucuses would have their delegates determined the day of using attendance.
3/31/2007 State Central Committee Meeting in Reno, NV approved the draft
• Four plaintiffs in the current lawsuit were in attendance and voted for the plan: John Cahill, John Birkland, Vicky Birkland and Dwayne Chesnutt.
• This plan clearly stated at-large caucuses would have their delegates determined the day of using attendance.
5/2/2007 Memo with full details on At-Large Caucuses Given to Presidential Campaigns including the provision that delegates would be allocated the day of the caucus based on attendance and including the formula that would be in the final plan.
8/25/2007 DNC RBC Grants Nevada Draft Plan ‘Conditional Compliance’ pending other RBC changes needed to bring it in full compliance.
• Additional changes were requested by RBC staff, however, no more changes or additional information was ever requested regarding at-large caucuses.
9/24/2007 Draft Plan in Conditional Compliance Posted on Web Site with at-large caucus formulas in it.
10/4/2007 Final Delegate Counts with Delegate Count Memo sent to Campaigns and Allied Organizations including NSEA Political Director Julie Whitacre.
10/24/2007 Jill Derby, Chairwoman was sent a letter from the RBC saying the Draft Plan was granted full compliance making It the Final Plan
The final plan in full compliance was posted on the web site on or about 10/24/2007, before the end of October, with the at-large caucus formulas in it.