LAS VEGAS — Chaos reigned early Tuesday evening in Nevada as Republican voters reported instances of ballot stuffing, failure to check if voters were registered and ballot collectors decked out in apparel representing their preferred candidate.
Multiple precincts were caucusing at Palo Verde High School in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin. In the after-work crush of voters that mobbed the school cafeteria, voters reported to the Washington Examiner instances of caucus volunteers being overwhelmed and failing to check identifications against voter registration lists, leaving open envelopes of completed ballots unattended and running out of ballots. There were some reports of voters filling out and handing in multiple ballots.
Melissa Marks, 47, who voted for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, said no one asked her for identification to ensure she was registered before she was handed a ballot. "Not remotely, not remotely; they just handed it to me," she said. The cut-off to register to vote for the caucuses was Feb. 13. "Absolutely," Marks added, when asked if she was concerned about the veracity of the results. "Because I don't want [Donald] Trump to win."
There were multiple reports on Twitter, meanwhile, of caucus volunteers who were charged with collecting ballots that were wearing apparel that clearly identified them as supporters of New York celebrity businessman Donald Trump. (See below)
Some precincts caucusing at Palo Verde High School appeared to be running more orderly than others. In particular, one precinct being overseen by an Nevada state legislator appeared to be very diligent in checking identifications against voter registrations lists. That precinct had a steady line of voters, as would be expected given the heavy volume of voters here and the time it takes to ensure caucus eligibility.
The Republican National Committee, reacting to reports on Twitter of confusion at Palo Verde High School, dispatched an official to monitor the process. This GOP official told the Examiner that it takes all reports of potential problems seriously and was keeping an eye on the process to ensure smooth operations and ballot integrity.
The Nevada Republican Party disputed reported issues with the caucuses.
"There have been no official reports of voting irregularities or violations. #nvgopcaucus," the state GOP tweeted Tuesday evening.
The Nevada GOP also tweeted that it is not against the rules for volunteers to wear candidate gear, adding "[v]olunteers went through extensive training & are doing a great job."
Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, Rubio's state campaign chairman, suggested in comments to reporters that the state party mismanaged the caucuses. He hedged when asked if he has confidence in the process.
"I've been to a couple caucus sites and I'm hearing the same challenges that I experienced, and that was long lines and a lot of disorganization," he said. "But eventually you got through the process and you get through the process and you cast your ballot and you go home. But it seemed that folks were a little frustrated by how long the lines were and how disorganized the caucuses were."
"I think we have to see how it all shakes out, the campaigns were not in charge of the caucus, the state party was," Hutchison added.