Some Nevada caucus sites facing volunteer shortages as count comes in slowly

A spokeswoman for state Democrats said the staffing issues were not causing voting problems.
Image: Nevada Caucus
Volunteers make preparations prior to the arrival of voters at a Nevada Caucus voting site at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nev., on Feb. 22, 2020.David Ryder / Reuters

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By Garrett Haake, Suzanne Gamboa, Anna Sundberg and Dareh Gregorian

LAS VEGAS — Voters were turning out for the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, but there was a lack of volunteers to meet them at some polling locations and confusion about the counting rules.

National Election Pool vote count stringers reported several precincts where confusion about the counting rules and issues incorporating the early vote was delaying the reporting of results. The reporters observed problems in at least six of the 63 locations where they were collecting votes.

By 6:30 p.m. ET, 10 percent of the vote was reported, far less than the 82 percent that was reported in the same time frame in 2016.

At Rancho High School, a caucus location with 11 precincts just outside of Las Vegas, almost all of the volunteers were high school students, many of whom are unable to vote themselves because of their age. The only adult that NBC News spotted working at the site was the caucus lead — the school's social studies teacher. The students were only trained Friday night, and officials were actively looking for more adult volunteers to help coach the teens through the process.

Still, the process at the busy site seemed to work smoothly, and one of the under-18 volunteers described the experience as "pretty chill."

At another precinct near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a state Democratic official told campaign representatives that there weren't enough volunteers statewide, and that the campaigns might have to staff voting locations themselves.

Molly Forgey, communications director for the state party, acknowledged there were some staffing issues but insisted there was no cause for concern.

"We have been recruiting and training volunteers all the way through this morning to ensure we have the capacity we need and we are confident in having the necessary volunteer numbers to cover caucus sites today," she said.

"We have thousands of volunteers working hard across the state today and this is not occurring at the vast majority of sites and precincts. It's common and not unusual for campaign volunteers to help with running precincts on Caucus Day — this happened in 2016 and in 2008."

Former presidential candidate Julián Castro, who's been stumping for Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the state, praised staff at the East Las Vegas Community Center's caucus site, saying it was running smoother than others he'd been to that had lacked sufficient staffing.

In an interview on MSNBC's "AM Joy" on Saturday, state Democratic party chair William McCurdy was asked about reports that volunteers had concerns about "rushed" preparations, and said he was confident that volunteers were ready.

"What we made sure to do was implement a process and make sure we trained our volunteers on how they can continue to deliver throughout this process with early vote. Also on Caucus day. We really like what we've been able to do. Since, actually, Saturday, we've been able to hold over 50 trainings and have over 1,400 people trained since that day. So we are doing the work day in and day out," McCurdy said.