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Preference for mail ballots high, Nevada early voter turnout data show

Credit: iStock

April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
June 10, 2024

Voter turnout for Nevada’s June primary election is currently low overall, but the people who are casting ballots are overwhelmingly doing so via mail.

Total turnout for the primary election sat at 234,378 — 11.7% of eligible registered voters — as of noon Saturday, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

Approximately 168,000 of those people chose to cast their votes using a mail ballot, while only 65,000 cast their votes in person during the state’s two-week early voting period, which ended Friday. Put another way: 72% of Nevadans who’ve already voted have done so via a mail ballot.

In Washoe County, where elected officials from both parties are fighting to keep the United State Postal Service from moving its mail processing operations to California, 78% of ballots cast so far have been via mail.

Nevada first transitioned to universal mail ballots in 2020 as an emergency response to the pandemic, then in 2021 state lawmakers made it a permanent feature. Voters immediately embraced it — 57% of ballots cast in the 2022 primary election and 51% of ballots cast in the 2022 general election were mail ballots. Still, universal mail voting continues to receive political pushback from Republicans.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Democrats showed a stronger preference for mail ballots, with 79% of their votes cast via one, compared to 60% of Republicans.

Of the approximately 33,000 nonpartisan and minor party voters who have cast ballots in the primary, 83% used a mail ballot. This group makes up 14% of overall turnout so far. They cannot vote in partisan elections — like those for U.S. Senate or House, or the Nevada State Legislature. But they can weigh in on nonpartisan races, including judicial, mayoral and school board races.

Democrats make up 44% of primary voters so far, while Republicans make up 41%.

While top Nevada Democrats don’t face competitive primary challengers, the GOP Senate primary between frontrunner Sam Brown, Jeff Gunter and others has split some support in the party. Several Nevada State Legislative seats will be determined by the primary election because only candidates from one party filed for the seat.

Clark County has the lowest voter turnout so far with just 10% of eligible registered voters casting a ballot as of noon Saturday, while neighbor Nye County has the highest turnout at 20%.

Primary turnout in Nevada as a whole has ranged from 18% to 30% since 2000, according to States United Action. Turnout for the 2022 primary in Nevada was 26%, according to the SOS.

The 2024 primary does not appear to be on track for surpassing that number, though a visit from former President Donald Trump in Las Vegas on Sunday, followed by an endorsement for Brown, may drum up additional interest on the right.

Election Day is Tuesday, June 11. Polls close at 7 p.m. and any eligible voters in line at the time are legally allowed to cast a ballot.

Nevada allows for same-day voter registration, meaning eligible people can register (or update their registration) on Election Day.

Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before June 11 and received by election officials by 5 p.m. on June 15 in order to be valid and counted. Mail ballots may also be returned to a ballot dropbox, which can be found at every physical polling location.

More than 4,500 ballots have been flagged for signature curing, which is needed when voters forget to sign their mail ballot or their signature doesn’t match what’s on record. County election officials will be reaching out to those voters.

Voters can track their ballots using Ballottrax.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.