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LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL 28TH ANNUAL BEST OF LAS VEGAS

A new year brings new things. Some good, some less predictable.

And this year, more than ever, we should expect new things, because for the past couple of years we have heard how change is coming. And it certainly is, on the grand scale of national politics and on the less grand scale of Best of Las Vegas.

Yes, while the new president-elect has been working overtime filling the cabinet and making plans to deal with our many and varied crises, we here at Best of Las Vegas Central have been busy, busy preparing for the 28th annual readers’ poll, which faces changes of its own. (And, frankly, we’re glad our changes don’t entail economic disaster and worldwide peril.)

With that healthy dose of perspective in mind, dear readers, please sit down and listen up. It’s going to be tricky, but not so much as reviving the nation’s auto industry.

You will notice a change in the Best of Las Vegas ballot. Hey, where did all the categories go? Well, they’ve been divided up to be presented to you in three parts over three weeks in the newspaper and online at www.lvrj.com/bestoflv. (Results will appear in both places on March 29.)

This week’s ballot features the popular Eat & Drink category — which does not include hotel eateries — and the Locations category.

Eat & Drink features 34 decisions this year, an increase of one with the return of Best Microbrewery.

As for Locations, it includes 17 choices, an increase of four with the return of getaways to Arizona, California, Utah and, of course, Nevada.

This is the Eat & Drink ballot’s third and final appearance in the newspaper. Online voting will continue all week. The deadline for both forms of voting will be 5 p.m. Monday. At that time, all voting for Eat & Drink and Locations will cease, including online.

In Sunday’s newspaper, the ballot will feature Hotels and Entertainment. It will repeat on Monday and Jan. 21 and run online all week. The deadline for that ballot will be 5 p.m. Jan. 26. Again, those categories will be suspended and votes counted.

Then on Jan. 25, the ballot will conclude with Shopping, Sports Spots, People and Best of the Worst, with repeats on Jan. 26 and 28. The deadline will be 5 p.m. Feb. 2. That will signal the end of balloting in the newspaper and online and your work will be finished. Whew!

The idea is to increase the opportunities for readers to participate in the poll. We’d like to top last year’s vote total of 7,982, which — with the help of online voters — blew away the old record of 3,962 from 1998.

Just because we’re getting all warm and generous does not mean we don’t have a few rules. But, hey, they’re really simple. We don’t accept photocopies of the ballots, only the real deals will do. Ballots need to be filled out legibly, too.

And please don’t stuff the ballot box. Consider it the small change you can do to make the world a better place.

Fortunately, one thing that hasn’t changed is our lovely list of prizes that will be awarded by drawing to people who fill out their entry information (and we’ll even be helpful this year by remembering to include a space for this stuff on the ballots).

Lest you forget, prizes include two tickets to the Best All-Around Performer, two tickets to see the Best Show, dinner for two at the Best Gourmet Restaurant in a hotel, dinner for two in the Best Gourmet Restaurant not in a hotel, lunch for two at the Best Place for a Power Lunch, a gift certificate to the Best Mall, and the grand prize of a night on the town featuring a dinner, show and overnight stay at a local hotel.

And if you return all three ballots, this year you’ll have three chances to win.

With so much at stake, it’s time to flex your fingers, sharpen your pencils and start voting!

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