Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, one of the most anticipated events of the nomination calendar, are unique among the other early contests—and not just because of Nevada’s diversity.
In fact, the Nevada caucuses are special because they are the first presidential caucus to allow early voting, which was made possible in part because of the adoption of ranked choice voting (RCV) for those ballots.
After the 2016 election, the Nevada Democratic Party sought to open up its caucus system to allow for ease of participation and access. Their solution—early voting conducted via RCV—has appeared to have achieved that goal. With over 70,000 early votes cast, the 2020 Nevada caucus looks set to dwarf 2016 (84,000 participants) and even 2008 (118,000 participants) in size—a major win for democracy.
The Nevada Democratic Party settled on RCV for its early voting because the method mimics the realignment phase of the caucuses. It even mandated voters rank in at least three columns, which we and various voting groups oppose as burdensome. So far, however, early voters embraced their new system, with 99.8 percent of the first 36,000 ballots cast ranking at last three choices.
While the entire process of early voting had its hiccups (between 3 and 4 percent of early ballots were invalidated because voters did not provide their signatures, though the Nevada Democratic Party is attempting to track voters down), the fact that virtually all voters properly ranked their candidates indicates that voters are ready to rank. Equally as important, the use of RCV ensured that early voting could be possible—a great development that gives voters more voice and guarantees they have a say in choosing their next president.
Here is a link to FairVote's press release.