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Mail-In Ballots, County Seats Highlight Upcoming Primary Election


Election season remains in full swing. Next Tuesday is Nevada’s primary, and due to the pandemic, every registered voter has the option of voting by mail. 

Those voters will have the chance to re-elect — or vote out — all of our U-S representatives, many of our state legislators and three members of the Clark County Commission. 

Some of these contests will be decided on Tuesday, but many will go on to the General Election on November 3.

Primary elections have had low voter turnout historically. With the mostly mail-in ballot format this year, political observers are wondering if the numbers will go up.

Steve Sebelius covers government and politics for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He said the turnout numbers so far are lower than in past elections, but he's hopeful.

"I anticipate that we'll at least meet, if not exceed," he said, "It's easier to vote now than it has ever been before. I mean, they mail the ballot to your house. The only easier way would be if [Clark County Registrar of Voters] Joe Gloria himself drove to your house, helped you fill out the ballot, and took it back to the election office himself."

Sebelius said that if someone finds mail-in balloting too burdensome, then they're likely not inclined to vote at all.

One deterrent to voting in this primary election could be the number of candidates for judicial seats. There are dozens of judge seats open and some have several candidates.

Sondra Cosgrove is the president of the League of Women Voters. She said she fielding a lot of questions about the judicial candidates. 

"I'm worried... with our turn-in rate right now at about 15 percent that we might end up being a little bit lower this time because people are assuming if they don't vote for the judges that they can't vote and that is not true," she said. 

From KNPR's State of Nevada: Electing Judges: How To Be An Informed Voter 

Besides the lengthy judicial candidates' list, another issue that has haunted the mail-in ballots has been the legal challenges to the process. Even President Donald Trump took to Twitter to talk about Nevada's use of mail-in ballots. 

Sebelius explained that a judge's decision cleared the way for the election to continue with mostly mail-in ballots.

"It was a speculative claim that mail-in ballots were going to result in voter fraud," he said, "These ballots that were sent in Clark County, not statewide but in Clark County, to inactive registered voters would be discarded. We saw pictures of that, discarded in trash cans and around apartment mailboxes, that that was going to lead to voter fraud."

The judge decided that not only were the claims speculative but they were also outweighed by the safe conduct of the election.  

Because of the mail-in ballots, election results will not be available Tuesday night and might take several days to report. 

"You can turn in your ballot on election day. You can mail it," Cosgrove said, "As long as it's postmarked June 9, it will be counted, but that means they're going to have to wait a couple of days for those ballots to get in."

In addition to that, Nevada has instituted same-day registration. So people who register to vote on election day will be given a provisional ballot. 

Poll workers then must verify their eligibility to vote and pull their ballot to count it. 

"That means we're going to be looking at four, five, six, maybe seven days for all that to take place," she said.

Will news about Rep. Steven Horsford's affair hurt his chances? 

Sebelius: So far, it doesn't look like it has. Voters are entitled to decide on their candidates based on whatever criteria they want. So, for some voters, that might be an issue, but I would note, as I look here at the candidates in that Democratic primary, that Steven Horsford is definitely the highest-profile candidate. The other candidates don't have the name recognition or the financial resources to compete with him. 

Ten State Senate seats are open, 42 seats in the Assembly. What's at stake for the Legislature?

Cosgrove: If you had asked me that question before we went on lockdown, I could've given you a whole list of criminal justice reform bills and some education bills. Now obviously, whoever ends up with the honor of being in the next legislative session is going to have to figure out how we dig ourselves out of the economic hole. 

County Commissioner Larry Brown is term-limited out. Six Democrats are running for his seat

Cosgrove: "Because Clark County is so heavily Democrat down here, often times when you see that many people in a race, there's representation that's at issue. It's not necessarily issues or platforms because they're all Democrats. The community wants to feel like they're being represented at the county and municipal levels. 

Sebelius: That is an interesting race. Look at all the candidates in these races... look at all these Democrats contending for these races. You never would have seen someone like Ross Miller even consider the County Commission just a few years ago. Well, now Steve Sisolak, who kind of broke the curse of the county commission, by getting elected governor, I think has shown that the county commission... a very powerful board, is not the graveyard of careers. It can still be a springboard to higher office.

[Editor's note: The Republican running for District C is Stavros Anthony. He was not contested in the primary]

County Commissioner/Co-Chair Lawrence Weekly is also term-limited. Seven Democrats are vying for that seat:

Sebelius: This one is harder to predict because William McCurdy being the chairman of the party... I wonder if he'll get an endorsement in that race from the Democratic Party. Mo Denis has been around a long time and has high name recognition as well. Issac Barron, in North Las Vegas, has high name recognition there too. This one is harder to call. 

[Editor's note: The winner of the Democratic Party primary will face David Washington, Henry Thorns and Stanley Washington, who are all running as independents. No Republican filed for this race.]


Steve Sebelius, politics and government editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal;  Sondra Cosgrove, president, League of Women Voters of Nevada

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.