Republicans closed their registration rolls on Feb. 13, and that is the file that will be used on Feb. 23. Democrats are allowing same-day registration on Saturday. So: A Republican registered by Feb. 13 could show up at a Democratic caucus site on Saturday, switch to the Democratic Party, vote and then still participate on Tuesday because the party switch would not show up on the GOP caucus rolls. Clark County Voter Registrar Joe Gloria confirmed Monday that this could happen. And he also pointed out that the Republican-become-Democrat could switch back to the GOP in time to vote in the June primary.
The Nevada Democratic caucuses are tomorrow, and though no one can say with confidence what's going to happen, the results are going to generate a lot of scrutiny. The Silver State was seen as a likely win for Hillary Clinton, but those expectations have changed quite a bit in recent weeks.
If Bernie Sanders prevails, he'll have new rhetorical ammunition about his ability to compete outside of states where liberal white voters dominate, such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
But Jon Ralston, an MSNBC political analyst and influential voice in Nevada media, this week introduced a possible wrinkle. In order to participate in the Democratic caucuses tomorrow, a Nevadan has to be a registered Democratic voter. That may sound straightforward, but the details open the door to mischief. As Ralston explained earlier this week:
The question then becomes obvious: would mischievous Republicans, eager to help Bernie Sanders, participate in the Democratic caucuses to boost the candidate the GOP is eager to face in the fall?
The answer is, maybe.
Ralston noted yesterday that "organized" Republican efforts to intervene in the Democratic contest are now underway. This includes College Republicans urging members to support the "socialist" in order to help the GOP candidate "prevail" in November, and coincided with work from a prominent conservative activist in Nevada encouraging Republicans to intervene with a similar message.
Time will tell whether this activism has its intended effect, and if Clinton hangs on, it'll be a moot point. What's more, if Sanders wins in a landslide, there won't be much room for quibbling.
I can't help but wonder, though, if Nevada Republicans fully appreciate the potential for unintended consequences. What they want is a Sanders victory. What they don't want is for Team Clinton to have a credible case that the results were tarnished by GOP mischief.
If Sanders wins narrowly, don't be too surprised if a whole lot of Dems start arguing on Saturday night, "Bernie's victory was bolstered by an organized Republican campaign based on the belief that he's a sure-fire loser in November."
Maybe Nevada Republicans should have been a little quieter about their rascally scheme?