What you need to know about the Presidential Preference Primary

by | Jan 4, 2024

Sample ballots and mail-in ballots are appearing in mailboxes across Washoe County this week for the first-ever Presidential Preference Primary in Nevada. Here’s what you need to know:

1. This election is only for registered Republicans and Democrats: In the 2021 Legislative Session, the Nevada State Legislature passed new election laws that replace the usual party caucuses with a Presidential Preference Primary. Only voters registered the main two parties – Republican and Democrat – will be able to participate in this primary. Nevada allows same-day registration, and if independent or nonpartisan voters wish to change their registration to a major party, they may do so before or on the day of the election. Learn more here. The primary will be held on February 6, with optional early voting from January 27 through February 2. 

2. Political parties ultimately decide how to select their candidates: The Presidential Preference Primary is non-binding. Major parties are responsible for how they select their nominee for president. This means that while Washoe County is mandated to conduct a Presidential Preference Primary, ultimately it’s the Republican and Democratic parties who decide how to select their candidates.

3. The Republican Party will also conduct a caucus: Because political parties determine how they will select their candidates, the Republican Party has opted to conduct a caucus on February 8. This is how the Nevada Republican Party will determine which presidential candidate will receive the state’s electors– and therefore who will “win” the delegates from Nevada. The Democrat Party in Nevada will not conduct a caucus, and registered Democrats who wish to vote for their candidate will need to participate in the Presidential Preference Primary.

4. Candidates must have filed with the State of Nevada to appear on the Presidential Preference Primary ballot: Candidates who want to appear on the ballot must file with the Nevada Secretary of State. The Nevada Republican Party has determined that those who file to be on the ballot may not participate in the caucus. This is why some candidates are listed on the ballot and some are not. Notably, Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump are not on the Presidential Preference Primary ballot in Washoe County because their campaigns opted to not file for the primary and instead participate in the caucus. In addition, some candidates who filed to be on the ballot have since dropped out. By law, Washoe County cannot remove them from the ballot.

5. The Presidential Preference Primary does not replace the Primary in June: There will be the usual Primary Election in June for all the partisan and nonpartisan offices other than president.

6. The Sample Ballot is a tool to help you plan your vote. It is not your official ballot: The Sample Ballot contains important information about the election and is a useful tool for understanding how to vote and what you are voting for. However, it is not the official ballot. You may only vote using the official mail-in ballot or casting your ballot on a machine during early voting or Election Day voting.

7. Mail-in ballots may be mailed or dropped off, or voters may vote in person: Voters have several ways to cast their ballots. Per Nevada law, every voter in Nevada will receive a mail-in ballot unless they have opted to not receive on. That ballot may be returned by mail or dropped off at drop boxes or at the Registrar of Voters Office. Voters who prefer to vote in person and not use the mail-in ballot may bring their ballot with them to turn in, and vote in person on a voting machine. Vote locations are listed here

For more information on the Presidential Preference Primary, how to register to vote or update your voter registration, visit www.washoecounty.gov/voters