Massive turnout expected today | NevadaAppeal.com

Massive turnout expected today

Election officials ” especially in western Nevada ” are predicting a massive voter turnout today as the two-year election campaign to replace George W. Bush as president reaches its climax.

“It’ll be the best turnout I ever had in Carson City,” said Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover. “Over 90 percent I think.”

Douglas Clerk Ted Thran has predicted that county will see 95 percent of its registered citizens vote by the time the polls close at 7 p.m.

To handle the load, Glover said he has 120 voting machines at two polling places: The Community Center and Fuji Park.

Glover said more than half Carson City’s voters turned out in early voting ” 14,610 out of 28,533 voters.

Douglas officials, with a much more spread out landscape, have 13 sites from Stateline at South Shore to Topaz Lake. There, 13,318 of 35,458 turned out early.

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Lyon County Clerk Nikki Bryan had a similar story, saying Lyon was on course for a record turnout as well.

“It’s a huge turnout compared to what we’ve had in the past,” she said late last week.

Statewide, more than 600,000 Nevadans cast their ballots early and lines were common in every urban area. Clark County voter registrar Larry Lomax termed the lines “like Disneyland.”

Many still prefer to vote on election day, but predictions of rain and possibly snow across the western part of the state could dampen today’s numbers a bit.

The biggest race in western Nevada is the repeat match-up between Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Jill Derby for the Congressional District 2 seat. Heller beat Derby two years ago but by fewer votes than the GOP’s registration advantage at that time. This year, Democratic voter registration drives have erased that advantage altogether and late polls showed the race tightening ” although with Heller still in the lead.

Derby backers are hoping the support for Obama can overcome that lead.

In Carson City, former Republican Secretary of State Cheryl Lau is trying to unseat Democrat Bonnie Parnell in Assembly District 40.

But the two key Nevada legislative races are both in the south, where Democrats have mounted strong challenges to incumbent Republicans Joe Heck and Bob Beers. If they lose, Democrats claim the majority in the Nevada Senate.

But the race driving the entire election day scenario is the battle between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain to succeed Bush as president. For most of the campaign, the Silver State has been considered a toss-up. But with the financial meltdown on Wall Street and the deepening recession, those polls have shifted and now the state is considered most likely in Obama’s column.

One likely reason is the huge number of young and predominantly Democratic voters clerks say are turning out. Although thousands of them registered in 2006 and 2004, few actually made it to the polls. Officials cite the almost perpetual lines at the University of Nevada Reno student union polling station as an example.

Obama has visited the state now 22 times, But McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have been no strangers here either. Palin made her third visit Monday.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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