Early voting continues at record pace in Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Early voting continues at record pace in Nevada

Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – More than a third of the record 800,000-plus Nevadans expected to vote by the time polls close on Tuesday have cast early or absentee ballots, and Democrats still lead in turnout in larger counties.

By mid-Wednesday, 264,790 Nevadans had cast early or absentee ballots in Clark, Washoe, Carson City and Douglas counties, home to 91 percent of all Nevada voters.

When just the early votes were counted, 96,384 Democrats and 92,726 Republicans had cast ballots – giving the Democrats a 3,658-vote margin.

Washoe County didn’t have a mail-in ballot total available Wednesday, but when absentee votes were added from the other three counties, the voter totals increased to 115,136 Democrats and 112,197 Republicans – a difference of 2,939 still favoring the Democrats.

The overall total also included 37,457 nonpartisans and splinter-party members.

The combined totals give both major parties something to worry about – because Republicans are showing up in respectable numbers in Democrat-heavy Clark County and Democrats are very close to Republicans in GOP-heavy Washoe County.

Clark County, encompassing Las Vegas, accounted for 185,435 of the early voters, with Democrats making up 44 percent of the balloting. That’s the same percentage as their overall registration. Republicans accounted for 40 percent of the early votes – and that’s higher than their overall 37 percent registration.

Democrats registered in Clark County made up 45 percent of the 38,263 absentee ballots counted as of mid-Wednesday. Republicans were close behind with 44 percent of the mail-in votes.

In Washoe County, there were 23,063 early voters as of mid-Wednesday. Republican voters, at 43 percent, matched their overall registration percentage. Democrats, also with 43 percent, were only 19 votes behind GOP voters and well above their overall 36 percent of all Washoe County voters registered for the general elections.

Democrats voted early in Carson City and Douglas County at rates close to their total registration, while early voting by Republicans in the two counties was 4-5 percent above their registration percentages.

Mail-in balloting was high for Democrats in Carson City – 43 percent compared with their overall registration of 34 percent. It was high for Republicans in Douglas County – 64 percent compared with their overall registration of 56 percent.

Washoe County Registrar Dan Burk has said Democrats made a comeback in voting following John Kerry’s visit to Reno on Friday. The Democrats started out with an advantage but then lost it as early voting continued last week.

Democrats have been gleeful about the Washoe voting, and also say their overall advantage in the four big counties is a good sign because Democrats tend to vote later anyway.

Republicans counter that Kerry isn’t running very strongly in the Las Vegas area, and they’re pleased with the figures so far because they show President Bush in good shape to get Nevada’s five electoral votes.

Secretary of State Dean Heller had predicted both early and absentee balloting would be strong, and said the combined total could be close to a record 400,000. He figures another 400,000 voters will cast ballots on Tuesday.