RENO — At least at the polls in Nevada, state election officials say it’s the Democratic, not the Democrat, Party.
Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, directed county clerks and voter registrars last week to get rid of any ballots or other materials that reference the “Democrat Party” and instead use its official name, the Nevada Democratic Party.
Some Republicans say they use the phrase to distinguish big “D” Democrats from little “d” democracy and the democratic process. But many Democratic Party faithful maintain it’s intended as an insult.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich used the phrase religiously during the 1990s when Republicans seized control of the House. Today, Rush Limbaugh is among conservative broadcasters nationally who use it almost exclusively when referring to the party of the Democrats.
That’s why some Nevada Democrats who turned out in June to vote in the primary election in Reno and Sparks were miffed when they found themselves selecting from candidates on the “Official Democrat Primary Election Ballot.”
“It’s being used as a slur,” Washoe County Democratic Chairwoman Janice Flanagan told the Reno News & Review, which first reported the conflict in its June 26 editions. The weekly tabloid said it had brought a similar problem to the attention of then-Washoe County Registrar Dan Burk in 2008 and he had vowed it would not happen again.
Current Registrar Luanne Cutler told The Associated Press on Thursday she immediately contacted Nevada election officials, who issued the statewide memo regarding “Use of ‘Democratic Party’ on Election Materials.”
“We have received some complaints lately and there was a recent article about the incorrect usage of ‘Democrat Party,’” Miller said in the June 26 memo signed by Scott Gilles, deputy secretary for elections.
“In all applicable election materials that your offices produce, print and/or publish, please be sure to use the correct reference of ‘DemocratIC Party’ and NOT ‘Democrat Party,’” said the memo with the “ic” in Democratic in italics and the “not” underlined.
Cutler said she already has contacted the county’s ballot production vendor to make sure the top of future ballots is changed.
“We have updated the party listing to read Democratic in every area it refers to the party as a whole,” she said. “The candidates will be referred to as Democrats.”
Flanagan said party officials appreciated Miller’s prompt response to their concerns.
“We know the Registrar never intended to disparage our Party,” Flanagan said in an email to AP. “However, many Republicans who have made a deliberate effort to denigrate the Party by tampering with our legal name will be disappointed their juvenile tactics have failed.”