The long lines of two weeks of early voting replaced long lines of voters on Election Day ready to cast ballots for both national and statewide and regional offices.
When voters finally entered the main area with its voting machines, 62 residents waited inside the main lobby of the Fallon Convention Center in one, winding line that snaked back to the vending machine.
Record-breaking early voting numbers from Oct. 22-Nov. 4 resulted in a total of 7,033 in person voters and 700 absentee ballots with 4,728 Republican, 1,544 Democrat and 1,461 Independent ballots cast.
Churchill County Deputy Clerk Erin Montalvo didn’t know what to expect on Tuesday, considering more than 7,000 voted during the past two weeks.
On the last day of early voting on Friday, residents were lined up outside the commission chambers. The final resident, who had been standing in line for more than an hour, finally bellied up to a voting machine shortly before 7 p.m.
Montalvo said voting was light for a few hours on Friday, and soon afterward many voters arrived to avoid waiting in line on Tuesday.
A total of 7,733 ballots were cast. Churchill County Clerk Kelly Helton said she was impressed with the overall turnout, which included actual voters, absentee ballots and mail-in ballots,
As for the voters who were walk-ins, the Republicans easily outnumbered the Democrats, quite the opposite from heavily populated Clark County and Las Vegas.
The highest the early voter count has been since its county inception was in the 2012 general election with 6,244 ballots cast.
“It was really astounding,” said Churchill County Clerk Kelly Helton, adding that it was also expected. “I was expecting large numbers, so I really wasn’t surprised — but it was very exiting to see so many people turn out, especially young people. There were a lot of young early voters.”
Helton said early voting went very smoothly though there were lines, which were also expected.
“Friday night was pretty crazy,” she said of the last day. “It was the third highest day of the two weeks” with 816 voters showing up. The largest voter turnouts were opening day, a Saturday, with 822 and the next open day, a Monday, with 823.
While election officials were happy early voting ended last week, the electorate expressed relief that voting finally took place.
For most, the campaign season is too long, lasting nearly two years. Several national polls have indicted that about 75-80 respondents would like to see the campaign season shortened.
“I am so glad it’s over ... really,” said Sylvia Dankers, exiting the convention center. “It’s been exciting, but this election has been so horrible.”
Churchill County Middle School history teacher Gary Jamieson said this year’s election provided good discussions in class. He said a mock election took place with the majority of students voting for Republican Donald Trump.
“It’s (the election cycle) has been too long,” he said. “There is no reason we can’t do it in a shorter amount of time.”
On the other hand, Kevin Quint said the long campaign season didn’t bother him.
“I commute to Carson City, and the past year and a half, I have enjoyed all the commentary,” he said. “But I didn’t expect it to be this tumultuous.”