Troubles abound at special Las Vegas caucus

By Cristina Silva

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

After the ballots were turned in, about hundred voters stayed and watched as Gibbs counted and added up the results. Many of them were Paul supporters, and they cheered each time his name was called indicating that he had won a vote.

A separate vote for religious voters is largely unheard of, but that's likely because many states provide alternative ballots for voters who can't make it on the official Election Day. For example, South Carolina also held its presidential nominating contest last month on a Saturday, but the state-run primary election allowed for absentee voting.

In Nevada, the caucuses are organized and overseen by party officials, not the government. Saturday morning was the only opportunity most Republicans had to cast ballots. Democrats in Nevada held their caucuses Jan. 21.

There are roughly 74,000 Nevadans who identify as Jewish, or 2.8 percent of the state, according to 2010 Census data. It's unclear how many of those people identify as Republican or observe the Sabbath.

The caucus served somewhat as a welcome party to Jewish voters ahead of the November general election. In recent months, Republicans have stressed that Jewish voters are unhappy with President Barack Obama's stance on Israel and the Middle East, and the GOP is eager to use that dissonance to attract new voters to their ticket.

Jewish voters, long considered a safe Democratic voting bloc, are increasingly leaning Republican, according to an analysis released this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It found that Jewish voters favored Democrats by a 36-point margin in 2011, compared with a 52-point margin in 2008.

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