Nevada Democratic Caucus Ties Will Be Decided By High-Card Draw

Toni Ann Booras Contributor
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Nevada Democrats will decide any precinct ties in this Saturday’s caucus by a high-card draw, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.

The news comes after the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus drew criticism when at least seven coin tosses were used to break ties. The Des Moines Register reports former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won at least six of these coin flips, though subsequent CNN reports assert Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won five of the flips. The actual number of coin tosses conducted in precincts across the state remains unknown.

In Nevada, a different game of chance will be used to break potential ties between the two Democratic candidates. The party will give each precinct location an unopened deck of cards to use in case of a tie. The party provided instructions that the deck should be shuffled seven times, with a representative from each campaign picking one card, according to the Gazette-Journal.

“In these very limited circumstances where two or more presidential preference groups are tied for the loss or gain of a delegate, groups must each draw a single card from a deck of cards to break the tie,” party officials stated in a memo to CNN. “The high card determines the winner, and aces are high.”

This would not be the first time such a tactic has been used to determine a caucus winner in the Silver State. The 2008 Democratic caucus saw ties between then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and then-New York Sen. Clinton tied at two precincts; Obama won both draws, though Clinton won the caucus.

Such games of chance are not likely to determine which candidate wins or loses the caucus. In the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucus, Clinton won 49.9 percent of statewide delegate equivalents, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won 49.6 percent. Even though Clinton’s victory was narrow, the coin flips did not have an effect on the winner of the caucus. Clinton won by the equivalent of four state delegates; at stake in the coin flips were which delegates go on to the county level, which make up only a small fraction of state delegates.

The caucus decides which precinct-level delegate will attend the county convention. From there, delegates are chosen to go on to the state and national levels, where coin flips are not used.