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13 Responses

  1. BY says:

    And what of voters in Michigan, denied the opportunity to influence the Democratic Party’s choice of nominee because the state violated party rules and advanced its primary too early (in the Party’s opinion)? The Republican party halved Michigan’s delegates for the same violation. Apparently the political parties are not obligated to accommodate people, and it is our job as voters to tell individual candidates our regret that we could not vote for them, as we were in shul.

  2. Baruch Pelta says:

    I was under the impression that one could vote through absentee voting instead, no?

  3. mycroft says:

    We live in a Chriistian country-the percentage of Christians is much higher than the percentage of Jews in Israel. December 25, January 1 aRE LEGAL HOLIDAYS. aLL PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATIONS ARE SIGNED YEAR OF ” “WHICH IS TRUE ONLY FOR CHRISTIANS.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Because of the time an attendee needs to put in at a caucus, Nevada must have scheduled theirs on a Saturday to get more participation. An ordinary primary or election is more easily held on a normal weekday, with provision for absentees to vote by mail, or at a central location on a different day.

    Other than its gimmick or publicity value, there is no reason to use caucuses in place of traditional party primaries with secret balloting, ideally closed to non-party members.

  5. Bill Cork says:

    As a Seventh-day Adventist, I appreciate your drawing attention to this.

    I think the issue here is even broader. Because this caucus requires personal appearance, it disenfranchises anyone who is not able to come in person–including many of the elderly, as well as military personnel.

    If Nevada (and other caucus states) were to shift to having primary elections instead, which would allow for early voting and absentee voting, no one would be disenfranchised, whether for religious or any other reasons.

  6. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    BY, the courts have ruled that political parties have an absolute right under the US Constitution to set their rules as long as no illegal discrimination occurs. And that includes deciding when to hold primary elections or caucuses.

    Bob, I used to be a county committee member in Virginia. There are several reasons why they hold caucuses rather than primaries. One is that they want only people affiliated with the party to determine the nominee. This was a very big deal in states such as Virginia in which people don’t register by party and there is a history of people affiliated with one party voting in the other party’s primary in order to screw up their nominating process. Another is that the Democrats have a “second chance” process so that voters whose first choice candidate falls short of the number of votes needed to have the possibility of a convention delegate can then cast a second choice vote. This is a form of proportional representation that is possible, but unwieldy, in regular elections; the only place I know in the US that today uses such a system is the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. A third reason is that primary elections cost a lot of money to run; the cost of caucuses has to be born by the party. Nevada is one of the few states still without an income tax and this may be one small reason why they can remain such.

    That said, I think it is absolutely inexcusable for both parties to hold their caucuses on Shabat. They could at least hold them after dark on Saturday night!

  7. He Who Remembers says:

    When I went to school in the early ’60s we were taught that the Australian (secret) ballot was a great advance for democracy. Yet now, so many decades later, these unfair (especially when held on Shabbos) caucus-based open votes are in position to show great influence in determining the future of the U.S.

  8. Ori says:

    Charles B. Hall, why are caucuses more resistant to infiltrators? Going to the opposite party’s caucus isn’t that much harder than voting in its primaries – they don’t test you at the door, I assume.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    Based on “Comment by Charles B. Hall, PhD — January 17, 2008 @ 11:33 am”, it seems that a standard primary closed to non-party members, combined with voter registration by party, would meet the need. The cited Virginia problem that caucuses allegedly solve appears to have been the direct result of that state’s lack of voter registration by party. Isn’t that faulty registration system remediable?

    Can anyone show that, under comparable circumstances, caucuses attract a higher percentage of voters than primaries do?

    Can anyone demonstrate that proportional representation anywhere has actually improved government?

  10. mycroft says:

    “Can anyone demonstrate that proportional representation anywhere has actually improved government”

    I believe that the editors of CC would not want a discussion of clearly a tangential matter but for starters read the following piece from Wikpedia and see the various countries that have proportional representation and make your own conclusion.


  11. Charles B. Hall says:


    IIRC I had to sign a pledge to support the party’s nominee before participating in a caucus.


    I don’t think it is practical for the states that don’t have party registration to re-register everybody by party. It would be an enormously expensive undertaking and in today’s tax-adverse America that isn’t a big seller. I strongly suspect that caucuses have much lower participation than primaries although I haven’t personally looked at the numbers; there tend to be far fewer places to attend caucuses than there are primary election polling places. And the question of proportional representation is worthy of a Political Science Dissertation. New York City had PR for its City Council elections for a few years but gave it up a long time ago; AFAIK it and Cambridge are the only places in America that have ever used it. In Israel it clearly gives greater influence to small parties, in particular religious parties — they would probably have fewer than ten MKs under a British or Canadian election-by-district system, rather than the current 28 under national PR.

  12. Charles B. Hall says:

    One more point regarding accomodation of religious voters: September 11, 2001 was primary election day in New York City. The election was cancelled; normally it would have been rescheduled for the following Tuesday but that day was Rosh HaShanah. Instead, the election was held on Thursday, September 20.

  13. Larry Lennhoff says:

    I confess to regarding this whole issue as a tempest in a teapot. Nevada is a very unusual state – a significant percentage of its people work in the entertainment industries in Las Vegas and Carson City. Given how many people work nights and weekends, a Saturday morning caucus makes sense to me. The question is whether more politically active people are unable to attend a Saturday morning caucus than one on a weeknight, Sunday morning, or Saturday morning.

    I have seen exactly one comment from a Jewish Nevada resident, and he was planning on attending the caucuses. Has anyone seen a comment from a Nevada Jew who said “If the caucus wasn’t on Shabbat I would have attended it”? If not, then I say ‘no harm, no foul’.

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