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Las Vegas Valley residents cast ballots on 1st day of early voting

Updated May 28, 2022 - 5:50 pm

Saturday marked the first day of early voting in the Nevada primary elections, and across the Las Vegas Valley enthusiastic residents came to their nearest malls and grocery stores to cast ballots.

Four locations opened in Henderson, including two Albertsons and a large shopping plaza, but the largest turnout was at Galleria Mall, which opened at 11 a.m.

By 11:45 a.m., Lee and Sally Gatzemeyer of Las Vegas said they had waited an hour in line.

“We vote in all elections,” Sally Gatzemeyer said. “I don’t mind standing in line.”

Election officials did not have an estimate on how many people were expected to vote at the mall Saturday. They said residents with disabilities could skip the line.

Ken Merrill stood about 30 minutes in line with his wife and his cane. The couple lives less than 2 miles from the mall, and Merrill wanted to make sure he got his vote in for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt.

“It’s our civic duty to get out and decide who will be in power,” Merrill said.

Volunteers, including attorneys, were scattered at voting sites across the state Saturday. Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said the ACLU was working with Silver State Voices to coordinate the volunteers.

“Voting is the foundation underlying democracy, and any efforts to undermine voter participation will not be tolerated,” he wrote to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Albertsons at College and East Horizon drives also had occasional lines, but Henderson resident Jerry Parr said it was a smooth process, and worth it, to cast his votes.

“This is a critical time, and we have got to vote,” he said.

A large tent was set up in the parking lot of a shopping plaza near East Silverado Ranch Boulevard and South Eastern Avenue, allowing residents to vote in under 20 minutes.

Mary Beth Miller said she thoroughly reviewed the Review-Journal’s voter guide before making her decisions, except for Gov. Steve Sisolak, Rep. Susie Lee and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, for whom she knew she would vote.

“It is so important that everybody votes,” Miller said.

Ruben Murillo, a Clark County Election Department team leader, said an hour after the tent opened that about 50 people had voted Saturday. Although they started with a large line, voters were in and out quickly after the initial rush.

Down the street, at the Albertsons at South Eastern Avenue and East Warm Springs Road, David and Leslie Molitz of Henderson were the sixth and seventh voters in the building Saturday morning.

“The sooner you vote, the sooner your vote gets counted,” David Molitz said.

By the time the couple finished voting, election staff had not even finished putting up the signs advising where to vote.

“We need to keep Sisolak in for the sake of women,” Leslie Molitz said.

‘Minimal IT issues’

At about 4 p.m., Robert Taylor dropped off his completed ballot at Pearson Community Center in North Las Vegas. He said it was important not to wait and to vote when he had time.

Taylor, a barber, was born and raised in North Las Vegas.

“I always make sure that I let my barbers know and my clients the importance of voting,” Taylor said.

He said he appreciates having the option of voting by mail, but he wanted to come in person because the community center is within 2 miles from his house and is a place he enjoys visiting.

“Local elections can affect you more and faster than the presidential election. Most people don’t know that,” Taylor said. “So it’s very important to vote and be a part of it. That’s when you have skin in the game and that’s when you become invested. You want to secure your investment in your city.”

Tammy Green, the team leader at Pearson, said things went smoothly Saturday. She said some people were lined up as early as 7 a.m. before voting opened at 9 a.m. As of 4 p.m., she said, 45-50 people had come to vote at the center.

“I’m feeling great about this voting cycle,” Green said. “I think that the next 13 days are going to be good. I think we’re going to get some good outcomes, and I think everybody’s going to behave themselves.”

At the Meadows mall, where Marlene Stewart was the team leader, all the voting booths were empty around 3:45 p.m. There was a line at the site when it opened and for the first hour, she said.

She said that other than “some minimal IT issues” with voting machines in the morning, things ran smoothly.

“First day, there’s always a couple glitches along the way, but it’s gone well,” Stewart said.

Early voting continues through June 10 at locations scattered around valley. Locations and more information are available on the county’s website.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter. Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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