If you haven’t already voted, it’s today | NevadaAppeal.com

If you haven’t already voted, it’s today

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Vote today.Or, perhaps, you already have. More than 100,000 Nevadans cast their ballots during early voting, which has continued to grow in popularity since it was first offered here in 1994.

Early voting has proved a boon to the process, simplifying the old “absentee ballot” and giving people many more opportunities to get to polling places at their own convenience.

Easier registration has also encouraged people to fulfill their right and obligation to participate in a representative democracy.

Today’s primary election offers few races on most area ballots. That’s no reason to stay home, however.

The candidates on the ballot – a few local contests (outside Carson City), Nevada Supreme Court, State Board of Education, congressional candidates for Senate on the Republican side and the U.S. House on the Democratic ticket – deserve no less attention than the better-known races that will greet voters in November.

Exactly what will be on the November ballot remains a source of considerable controversy, especially for initiative petitions.

The number of court challenges over those petitions proves the Nevada Legislature has a significant amount of cleaning up to do when it meets in 2005. The process of putting a question before Nevada voters must be as clear and unencumbered as possible, because in many ways it is the purest form of democracy.

Some rue so-called “government by petition,” but it’s vital that people be able to bring their own issues to the ballot, if they can collect the signatures of enough registered voters. These days, unfortunately, the people circulating petitions tend to be hired hands with no particular interest in the issue on the clipboards they carry.

Laws on petitions must strike a balance between legitimate interest groups and those simply trying to buy their way onto the ballot.

Much of the responsibility, though, still lies on the signers, who should make sure they understand the question before they put their name to it.