Social media users report irregularities at Nevada caucus | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 24.02.2016
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Social media users report irregularities at Nevada caucus

Missing ballots, double voting and biased volunteers: Reporters and caucus-goers took to social media to point out voting irregularities, violation of rules and complete disorganization at last night's Nevada caucus.

Donald Trump has done it again. In the latest contest to select the Republican presidential nominee, Trump has emerged as the top contender after polls closed in Nevada on Tuesday. If the results are confirmed, it will be his third victory in a row.

But throughout yesterday's caucus in Nevada, social media users headed online to point out that there were major problems at some of the caucus locations that made them question the accuracy of the results.

Double voting

The main problematic issue seems to have been the caucus personnel, who were accused of failing to properly identify voters and check IDs before handing out ballots. This might have led to voters casting multiple ballots. Student Letty Burgin tweeted:

Emily Cahn, reporter at Mashable, observed a similar scenario on the ground.

In one precinct, voters had their hands stamped in order to prevent them from casting multiple ballots, as reporter Geoff Dornan pointed out.

Missing ballots

While some residents might have voted multiple times, others encountered problems voting at all. Associated Press reporter Sally Ho tweeted that there were long lines and missing ballots at some of the polling stations.

National Review reporter Elaina Plott tweeted this, claiming that some locations hadn't been set up at all, making it hard for residents to vote.

She later added that ballots were flying around loosely on the table.

Mashable reporter Emily Cahn reported some locations ran out of ballots completely.

And BBC reporter Anthony Zurcher tweeted a photo of a registered Republican who encountered problems casting his ballot despite having signed up.

The Nevada Republican Party that ran the caucus, however, denied the allegations.

When criticism increased, a party official later said that the ballots would be "reviewed," according to former Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston.

Volunteers wearing Trump apparel

Another point of criticism was that some of the volunteers working at the Nevada caucus were reported to be biased as they were wearing Trump gear, even though they are supposed to remain neutral when distributing and counting the votes.

Local reporter Anjeanette Damon witnessed a similar scenario.

The Nevada Republican party reacted to the criticism on Twitter again, saying that wearing candidates' gear is not against the rules.

So far, no one has fundamentally challenged the results.

Complicated caucus rules

So why is the process to elect a presidential nominee so complicated and prone to irregularities? There are two different systems in the US electoral process to nominate a candidate for a presidential election: primary and caucus. Each state can choose whether they want to hold primaries or caucuses, which are then run by the parties, not by a governmental entity.

In both cases, residents of a specific US state, in this case Nevada, cast ballots and the candidate with the most ballots wins.

The main difference is that a caucus is a local gathering where voters can openly discuss the candidates and try to persuade their undecided neighbors, whereas in a primary residents cast their ballots quickly and solitarily. A caucus usually takes place in schools, community centers and places of worship.

USA Las Vegas Donald Trump Wahlkampfveranstaltung Siegerpose

Donuld Trump has emerged as the top contender of the Nevada causus

Every resident can only vote once, so in order to vote, people have to register with a specific party and either vote Democrat or Republican.

However, every state has different rules: While some allow independent voters who are not affiliated with a specific political party to vote in the primaries or the caucus, other states don't.

And to make it even more complicated, Republicans and Democrats run their caucasus and primaries differently as well.

While Democrats, for instance, allow their voters to register on the same day the caucus takes place in order to open caucuses to a wider group of people, Republicans must register ten days in advance of the caucus to participate and do not allow on-site voter registration.

Nevada caucus

Nevada only became a caucus state in 2008 and is thus fairly new to the game. It's only hosted three caucuses so far and it's not the first time things have been chaotic. In 2012, it took three days to release final results.

This time, it seems like the Nevada Republican Party simply wasn't prepared for the level of turnout.

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