by Adventist Today News Team
The process by which the Republican Party is selecting a candidate to run for President of the United States is a major news story these days. One piece of the story is directly related to Seventh-day Adventists. The Nevada caucuses were held on Saturday, February 4, and the party leaders organized a special caucus after sundown for Jewish and Adventist Sabbath-keepers.
This caucus, at the Adelson public school in the suburbs west of Los Vegas, has become a cause of considerable criticism over the last week. The Guardian, a British newspaper, quotes Jon Ralston, a Nevada political reporter, saying that the caucus process, as a whole, was “embarrassing to the party [and] to the state.” Channel 8, the CBS affiliate in Los Vegas, reported that “voter turnout … was down almost 26 percent from the 2008 caucuses” and it took until Monday morning to announce the results.
One of many problems with the caucuses was the fact that many of the people who turned up at the special session for Sabbath-keepers did not get the word in advance that “they had to sign an affidavit verifying their religion.” These non-believing voters in a city with a large secular segment were angry because they thought it was simply an opportunity to vote at a different time.
In fairness to the party leadership in the state, they did get the help of an experienced consulting firm in conducting the caucuses, CAP Public Affairs from Denver. The lengthy counting process seems to have been primarily due to the fact that all of the votes were gathered at the state party headquarters for certification and each of the four campaigns had to approve any problematic ballots.
“The announcement of the caucus for Sabbath-keepers did spark some conversation,” one Adventist member in the state told Adventist Today. “People wanted to know why we could not vote on the Sabbath.” In fact, it is not clear that the denomination has ever officially taken a position against members voting on Sabbath, although most would prefer not to since the Sabbath experience involves a general break from secular activities.
It is also unclear if any Adventists actually took advantage of the special, after-Sabbath Republican caucus in west Los Vegas. Public records do not include information about voters’ religious affiliation.