Dems outpace Republicans in early voting |

Dems outpace Republicans in early voting

Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Two-thirds of the way through Nevada’s early-voting cycle, Nevada Democrats are maintaining a strong advantage over Republicans in the state’s population centers of Las Vegas and Reno.

In the Las Vegas area, in Clark County, 211,178 voters cast ballots through Sunday. That’s just over a quarter of all active voters in the county, Nevada’s largest. Democrats accounted for 53 percent of the ballots while Republicans had 31 percent.

In the Reno area, in Washoe County, 51,209 people voted through Sunday, or nearly a quarter of all active voters in that county. Of the total, 51 percent were Democrats and 33 percent were Republicans.

Party membership of the early voters bodes well for Democrat Barack Obama, in a battleground state that backed Republican George W. Bush in the last two presidential elections.

While the figures don’t show how people actually voted, Obama backers believe a heavy majority of the early Democrats supported their candidate over Republican John McCain. Results of the early voting will be included in the first posted returns on Election Day.

The strong Democratic margin in Washoe’s early voting is likely to shrink this week as more GOP voters make it to the polls. That’s because Democrats have only a slight registration advantage – their first in 30 years – in the county, which has 231,212 active voters.

The Democrats’ early-vote margin also may shrink in Clark County, but it won’t be by much. There, the Democrats account for nearly half of the 815,077 registered active voters. Republicans have just under a third of such voters.

Besides the early voting, election officials are dealing with a heavy flow of absentee ballots mostly coming through the mail.

In Clark County, more than half of the nearly 60,000 absentee ballots requested by voters are back, and those sent in by GOP voters outnumber those from Democrats by a 46-41 percent margin.

Details on returned absentee ballots weren’t available from Washoe County election officials. However, Republicans have a big lead in requests for such ballots – more than 11,000 compared with nearly 7,000 for Democrats.

Nevada has more than 1.4 million registered voters, including 1.2 million who are considered active – and 87 percent of them live in Clark and Washoe counties. Statewide, there are 111,617 more Democrats than Republicans – a major change from the 2004 elections when there slightly more GOP voters than Democrats.

Voters in every state can now cast early or absentee ballots. Nationwide, about a third of the electorate is expected to vote early this year. In Nevada, the heavy balloting in advance of Election Day makes it clear that well over half of the voters will cast early or absentee ballots.