John L. Smith On The Past, Present And Future Of The Nevada Caucuses


(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez,File)

In this Feb. 20, 2016 file photo people line up to participate in the Democratic caucus at the University of Nevada in Reno, Nev.

Nevada's up-coming presidential caucus is facing increased scrutiny in the wake of the chaotic Iowa caucus on February 3. 

Some people are calling on the Nevada Democratic Party to end the caucus process and switch back to a primary election in the future. 

John L. Smith has his own view on the past, present and future caucuses.

“The bottom line is you’ve got a company called Shadow Inc. Okay? My first thought is, ‘let’s double-check to see if that app works,’” Smith quipped about the fiasco at the Iowa caucus, “I think the Iowans are going to go back to using their fingers and toes like they did before.”

Tuesday, the Nevada Democratic Party announced it would be using paper ballots during early voting, which starts Saturday. 

“Clearly, the technology questions when it comes to the vote is always the question,” he said.

Smith said that any time new voting machines are brought in there are questions about the technology used to cast, count and tally the votes.

After the debacle in Iowa, many people have questioned whether a caucus is the right way to go. Smith believes people who just want to walk in and vote in a primary are missing the point of a caucus.

“The point is, in addition to selecting delegates and narrowing focus, its also about bringing energy to the process,” he said, “You’ll see a junior high or high school gymnasium filled up with people all pulling one general direction but having very individual ideas about who they want to become the candidate.”

Support comes from

He said caucuses attract press attention and build a community of politically minded people. Smith noted that people get their start in politics at caucuses then move to the local party and up to state party and finally to the national scene.


Sheriff Joe Lombardo held his State of Metro address last week but only told a few of the media outlets in Southern Nevada.

“I think it was a mistake on his part – that’s for sure,” Smith said.

He said that some Clark County Sheriffs have had a good relationship with the media and others have not. He believes it is a mistake to not leave the door open even if the media is going to tell a story the sheriff might not like.

Even worse than cutting access off for everyone, Smith believes it is really not okay to pick a few favorites.

“If you’re closing the door to some and leaving it open for one or two select outlets, you’re setting yourself up for further criticism,” he said.


“It is really well worth seeing, well worth experiencing.”

Dam Short Film Festival

February 13 thru 16

Boulder City, NV 


John L. Smith, contributor

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