More than 36,000 early voters in Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

More than 36,000 early voters in Nevada

BRENDAN RILEY

More than 36,000 Nevadans made it to polling sites in government buildings, shopping centers, supermarkets and libraries in the first week of early voting for the Sept. 7 primary, local and state election officials said Friday.

Secretary of State Dean Heller said the count keeps the state on track to have about 100,000 early and absentee voters in advance of the election, although he’s concerned that Nevadans haven’t focused enough on state Supreme Court contests and other key primary races.

Early voting started Aug. 21 and will end next Friday, Sept. 3, and Heller said, “There should be a pretty good push in the second week. Most people will vote then.”

A check of seven counties that account for 96 percent of the state’s nearly 1 million registered voters showed 36,761 had cast early ballots as the first week of such voting drew to a close.

That included 30,219 voters in Clark County, the state’s largest; and 3,006 in Washoe County, the second largest county.

Carson City reported 1,700 early voters. Other county totals included: Douglas, 923; Lyon, 474; Elko, 406; and Nye, 42.

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Election officials had been concerned about voter reaction to touch-screen machines being used statewide for the first time, but were encouraged by the initial turnout and by the lack of any major delays – even though some voters waited a few minutes to see a paper record of their ballot.

The paper records, pushed by Heller following the Florida election debacle in 2000, also are a first, although not all voting devices in Clark County have them.

Most of the voter interest in Nevada is on the November general election because of the presidential race and several contentious ballot questions, but Heller hopes that enthusiasm will extend to the primary and people will vote early.

In the primary, voters will narrow the field in races for the U.S. Senate and House, state Supreme Court, state Board of Education, University and Community College System of Nevada regents, state Senate and Assembly, and many local offices.

The primary contests for the Legislature are expected to figure in one of the biggest shake-ups in Assembly and Senate representation in recent memory. The lawmakers’ big tax battle in 2003 already has prompted several incumbents to run for other offices or step out of politics.

Once the primary election is over, early voting for the 2004 general election will run from Oct. 16 until Oct. 29. Election Day is Nov. 2.