LAS VEGAS — Nevada will kick off two weeks of in-person early voting Saturday, marking the start of a primary election that’s expected to draw low turnout.
Voters can stop by a poll of their choice within their county to weigh in on governor, lieutenant governor and other statewide races, House contests and state Legislature seats. Nonpartisan judgeships, higher education regent positions and county commission, mayor and city council seats are also on the ballot.
Nevada is a closed primary state, which means voters are limited to casting ballots for candidates within their party. For example, a registered Republican may not vote in a contest that decides which Democrat advances to the general election.
The primary election is set for June 10. Voters have until June 6 to participate in early voting, and until June 3 to request an absentee ballot so they can vote by mail.
Secretary of State Ross Miller has estimated that turnout in the primary could be as weak as the record low 18 percent seen in the 2008 Nevada primary. By comparison, the state saw 81 percent turnout in the 2012 general election, when President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney faced off.
“Hot races tend to drive participation, and there aren’t a lot of very competitive statewide races this cycle,” said Miller, Nevada’s chief elections official. “With a low turnout, these elections are even more likely to be decided by a small margin.”
Early voting aims to boost turnout, providing extra opportunities for voters to cast ballots in a lower-profile election.
While Gov. Brian Sandoval appears on the primary ballot with four other Republicans, he’s expected to sail to victory through the runoff and the general election in November. There are eight Democratic contenders, all extreme longshots to win in the general election.
The lieutenant governor’s race is more competitive, with Sandoval-backed candidate Mark Hutchison trying to stave off opponent Sue Lowden for the nomination. Hutchison is a lawyer and current state senator, while Lowden is a former Nevada Republican Party chairwoman and former state senator.
The winner is expected to face off in the general election with state lawmaker Lucy Flores, considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.
All four of the state’s congressional seats are up for grabs. Tea party leader Niger Innis and state Assemblyman Crescent Hardy face off in the Republican primary for the right to take on Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford in the sprawling 4th Congressional District, which includes parts of Las Vegas and rural Nevada.
Erin Bilbray, the daughter of a well-known former congressman, is favored to win the Democratic nomination in the 3rd District and face incumbent Republican Joe Heck in November. Incumbents Dina Titus, a Democrat in the 1st Congressional District, and Mark Amodei, a Republican in the 2nd Congressional District, are expected to easily advance to the general election in November.
There are no U.S. Senate races in Nevada this year.
All state Assembly seats will appear on the ballot in 2014, although Democrats are expected to maintain a comfortable lead in the lower house. Republicans hope to regain power in the state Senate, where they have a 10-11 disadvantage.