Less than a quarter of registered voters turned out for election

Despite hopeful predictions by elections officials, less than a quarter of Nevada's 852,158 registered voters went to the polls in statewide primary elections Tuesday.

But both party leaders and county clerks say they expect a much better turnout in November when voters nationwide will choose either Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore for president.

Carson City Clerk Alan Glover, in fact, said the capital could see an 80 percent turnout.

Douglas Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed said the primary vote there was disappointing but that she too expects a big jump in interest for the November general.

Primary turnout was especially low among Democrats who had no major statewide races in the primaries. Turnout was higher where there was strong interest in local races such as the Reno City Council.

"For Democrats, there wasn't a big race in the statewide primaries to turn out for," said Elections Deputy Susan Morandi of the Secretary of State's office.

Using the Supreme Court primary race - the only non-partisan statewide race on the ballot - as an indicator of total turnout, only 197,469 Nevadans cast ballots Tuesday - a turnout of just 23.17 percent.

"The lack of a major statewide race in the primary contributed a lot to that," said Glover.

Morandi and Glover said that will change in November with a hotly contested presidential race, congressional battles, the Legislature, local races and ballot questions all before voters.

"Many of the counties have really heated local ballot questions and, for the state, there's the medical marijuana and protection of marriage initiatives," she said.

Morandi said she expects a statewide general turnout more than two-thirds given the issues and candidates on the ballot.

Glover, Reed and others, however, reported turnouts about 10 percent higher than raw calculations using total state registration. The reason is they removed the inactive voters from their totals before calculating turnout.

Inactives are voters who are still registered but haven't voted in the past two elections. Altogether, Nevada has more than 945,000 registered who could have voted in Nevada Tuesday. Removing inactives from the total reduced that by about 95,000.

Relying on the Supreme Court race as the best available indicator of how many people voted, Clark County turned out just 19.74 percent of those eligible - 103,161 of 522,464.

Douglas County was also extremely low with just 22.56 percent going to the polls - 6,140 out of 27,214. When Douglas officials deducted more than 6,000 from their rolls as inactive, their percentage turnout rose to about 34.

With the inactives included in the total eligible voters, Carson City's turnout was just 33.9 percent, well below what city officials had hoped in view of the hotly contested races for mayor and supervisor. But when Carson City officials cut more than 4,000 inactives from the list, it raised the Capital's apparent turnout to 44 percent.

By far the best turnout in the state was in Eureka County, at 67 percent, where 535 out of 794 registered voters made it to the polls. Pershing had a 53.57 percent turnout - 1,206 out of 2,251 voters. But most of the rural counties were well above the urban reporting areas with Humboldt, White Pine and Storey in the 40s and most of the rest above 30 percent. The one exception was Esmeralda County where just 20.25 percent went to the polls.


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