More than 170,000 already voted as polls open today | NevadaAppeal.com

More than 170,000 already voted as polls open today

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

Nearly half those expected to cast ballots in today’s election have done so already.

The Secretary of State’s Office reports 170,561 residents took advantage of early voting during the past two weeks. That is 19.6 percent of the 869,801 Nevadans registered to vote.

Susan Bilyeu, elections deputy for the secretary of state, is expecting a statewide turnout of about 45 percent, so most of those voters will actually be casting their ballots today.

The polls open at 7 a.m. under what are expected to be mostly sunny skies. With temperatures expected to be in the high 50s to low 60s, weather isn’t likely to impair turnout.

The early votes and several thousand absentee ballots will be counted when polls close at 7 p.m.

The highest early-vote turnouts in the state were reported in Lander County and Carson City. In the capital, 6,299 of 22,642 registered voted early, for 28 percent. Thirty percent turned out in Lander, or 723 of 2,411 registered.

The lowest early turnouts were in Washoe — just 6 percent of 185,792 — and Storey — 163 of 2,232 registered.

Douglas County’s turnout was 4,526 of 23,443, or 19 percent.

The statewide average was helped by by a 25 percent turnout in Clark County, where 136,763 of 547,854 registered voters went to the polls early.

The final turnout is expected to be lower than in 2000, but officials say that is to be expected in an off-year election with no presidential contest and, in Nevada’s case, no U.S. Senate seat on the line.

Further reducing voter interest, pollsters say Gov. Kenny Guinn has a huge lead over state Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, in his bid for a second term as governor.

The most hotly contested races are for attorney general and lieutenant governor.

But Question 9, which would legalize possession and use of up to three ounces of marijuana, is drawing interest from both opponents and supporters.

Democrat John Hunt is reported lagging behind Republican Brian Sandoval in the contest to replace Frankie Sue Del Papa as attorney general. And Southern Nevada voters are selecting Nevada’s newly created third seat in the House of Representatives between Democrat Dario Herrera and Republican Jon Porter.

The Carson City Rotary Club will hold an election night fund-raiser from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Nevada Appeal, 580 Mallory Way, where candidates, their supporters and campaign watchers can keep track of the vote counts. Cost is $20 per person, which includes hors d’oeuvres.

For those wishing to keep tabs on the elections throughout the night, visit nevadaappeal.com, which has links to updated results.