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Have a Las Vegas mailing address? You still might not get to vote for Vegas mayor

Updated May 28, 2024 - 9:42 am

It’s a question that puzzles longtime residents and new transplants alike: What do you mean, I don’t live in Las Vegas?

That isn’t an unreasonable question. After all, Las Vegas is what’s listed on mail, Amazon packages, drivers’ licenses and leases for most Clark County residents who don’t live in North Las Vegas or Henderson.

Las Vegas may be a state of mind, but living inside and outside of city limits makes a difference when it comes to voting in the upcoming primary and general elections. It doesn’t matter how many campaign signs you see driving around — if you live outside city limits, you can’t help pick the city’s next mayor.

If you aren’t sure, you’re not alone. The city often gets questions about the different jurisdictions, Las Vegas spokesperson Jace Radke said.

“Like many large metro areas, the Las Vegas valley has multiple governmental jurisdictions. The jurisdictional nuances can be confusing,” Radke said in a statement. “The Clark County Election Department does send sample ballots to registered voters that outline what races they are eligible to vote in.”

The city of Las Vegas ends roughly at Sahara Avenue to the south, Nellis Boulevard to the east and the base of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in the west. But most of those boundaries aren’t straight lines, and they don’t account for “islands” of county land sprinkled across the city’s territory.

The cities of North Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City also have their own boundaries, but much of what one might think is Las Vegas proper — including the Las Vegas Strip, Harry Reid International Airport and University of Nevada, Las Vegas — are in unincorporated Clark County.

Tools

Luckily, there are a few tools to help.

One tool allows a user to type in their address and determines whether the address is within city limits.

The city of Las Vegas also maintains a website to help residents find which of the city’s six wards they live in.

Also, a tool from Clark County allows all residents of Clark County to look up a list of all their elected officials, as well as other details about the property.

How did this happen?

How did this happen? Taxes, says UNLV professor Michael Green.

Las Vegas was incorporated in 1911 after a railroad company auctioned off the land where the township was slowly growing. Starting in the 1950s, casino hotels were being built outside of city limits to avoid paying municipal taxes and fees, Green said.

There have been several attempts by municipalities to annex county land since then, and as recently as 2018.

In 2017, Las Vegas annexed over 200 acres of unincorporated county land. Less than a year later, opponents blocked a proposal by the city to absorb 872 acres of unincorporated county land.

Las Vegas officials argued that residents living in county “islands,” which are surrounded by city boundaries, use city services that they don’t pay for.

“So if you want to vote for mayor, you better move north,” Green said.

This story has been updated with the new name of the Las Vegas airport.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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