weather icon Clear

Early voting may be more difficult for voters in 3 Las Vegas wards

Updated March 23, 2019 - 6:58 pm

The Cardenas Market on Bonanza Road symbolized the importance of early voting and minority turnout during the 2016 presidential election.

Located in heavily Hispanic eastern Las Vegas, the supermarket made national news that year when a surge of early voters caused a polling place there to remain open hours after its posted closing time. In 2018, primary and general election voters could cast ballots at Cardenas on the weekend.

But during early voting for this year’s municipal primary elections, the Cardenas polling place was open on a single Monday. It isn’t the only location with a brief schedule. Most early voting centers are open for two days or less in city wards 1, 3 and 5.

Nearly two-thirds of the city’s Hispanic and black registered voters reside in these wards, which cover eastern Las Vegas, downtown and the Historic Westside. However, only one early voting site inside the wards’ boundaries, Meadows Mall, is open on weekends.

“It’s not conducive to a system that wants to get people to vote,” said Hispanics in Politics President Fernando Romero. “Cardenas is very popular, so it shouldn’t be open just one day. It should be open every day or every other day.”

Constituents in the three wards are voting not only in the citywide mayoral race this year but also in contests for the Las Vegas City Council.

‘Something to be concerned about’

This year’s 14-day early voting period, which ends Friday, is markedly different from when voters in wards 1, 3 and 5 last elected council representatives in 2015.

Every ward except Ward 6 had an early voting center open on a weekend that year. Cardenas was open on a consecutive Saturday and Sunday.

“The fact there is a decrease in early voting sites and especially weekend voting sites in those wards is something to be concerned about,” said Amy Rose, legal director of the ACLU of Nevada. “I think this is something that will impact the people in these wards in terms of their availability to early voting and whether or not they will be able to get to the polls.”

Voters are not restricted to casting a ballot at a polling place in their ward, but traveling even a few miles to reach an open voting site could be more of a problem for residents of wards 1, 3 and 5 than for those in the rest of the city. Households in those three wards have lower rates of car ownership than their suburban counterparts, according to statistics published by the city of Las Vegas.

“Any kind of small barrier will have an impact on voter turnout,” said Kenneth Fernandez, a political scientist at the College of Southern Nevada. “It’s pretty logical. The more you have to go out of your way to walk or take a bus or drive, (the more) you’re going to reduce the likelihood of voting.”

Ward 5 resident Jaimie Sturgiss drove to the Meadows Mall on Saturday morning to cast her ballot.

The insurance company employee said her work schedule prevented her from voting during the week. She didn’t mind making the trip to vote, but she said all wards should have a polling place open on the weekend for voters’ convenience.

“There are a lot of people who work the same hours I do but have a family to take care of,” she said.

Who decides?

Selecting where and when early voting sites will operate is a collaborative process between the city and Clark County.

The county, which conducts local elections, asks whether city officials want any changes from the previous municipal election, county spokesman Dan Kulin said. Sometimes a shift is unavoidable because a private business or organization stops offering to host a voting center on its property.

Las Vegas City Clerk LuAnn Holmes said early voting this year mirrors that of the 2017 municipal election because the city did not receive complaints about that year’s setup.

“If there’s somewhere we see a lack, we increase our resources,” she said.

Turnout is notoriously low for municipal elections, a trend many officials say is because city races occur in odd-numbered years, making them out of sync with county, state and federal elections.

Cities across the county are hoping to increase turnout this year with a new program allowing voters to cast a ballot in their local race at voting sites anywhere in the county, even outside their home city.

“Even if you live on the border of Ward 6 or Ward 5, you’d also have the opportunity to vote in North Las Vegas,” Holmes said. “We’d like to see higher voter turnout. We’re doing everything we can to promote that.”

Voter turnout in Las Vegas city races was at less than 4 percent when polls closed Friday, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. Less than 3 percent of registered voters in both wards 3 and 5 had cast a ballot.

‘That’s not close’

Elected representatives in wards 3 and 5 said Friday that they did not know their wards had no voting centers open on the weekend.

“It’s not as insidious as it might sound, but you can see there’s a flaw,” Ward 3 Councilman Bob Coffin said.

Ward 5 Councilman Cedric Crear said it is too late to make changes to early voting in the primary election, but there may be time for adjustments before early voting for the general election begins in May.

“That might be something we can discuss with the (city) clerk,” he said. “Would I like for them to be open? Sure. Hopefully we’ll still get a good turnout.”

The news was more troubling to former state Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, a candidate for a special election in Ward 2. The special election will coincide with early voting during the city’s regular general election.

Voting centers in Ward 2 are open for only two days of early voting during the primary and general. Seaman and her family drove about 6 miles to the Rainbow Library on Friday to cast a vote in the mayor’s race.

“That’s not close,” she said. “That’s out of the ward.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Tarkanian, Coffin bid farewell to Las Vegas council

Las Vegas City Council members Lois Tarkanian and Bob Coffin offered their final thoughts on years of city service at their final meeting on Wednesday, where they were feted with a standing ovation.