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Heavy wind deters some Nevadans in early voting

Updated October 22, 2022 - 6:03 pm

Eighteen-year-old college student Amira Ezzarhri made her way through the line at the Galleria at Sunset mall Saturday morning, carrying her mail-in ballot with her. She was excited to vote for the first time for candidates who focused on the issues she cares about.

“I feel pretty confident and excited as well,” Ezzarhri said, who pre-registered to vote when she was 16.

Lower turnout than expected

Ezzarhri joined thousands of Nevada voters in the first day of early voting around the state, even though the heavy winds dampened turnout.

The line at the Henderson mall wrapped around most of the voting center by 10 a.m., and by 11 a.m. a line extended close to the door of the mall. Poll observers watched as streams of people flowed through the center, getting checked in at electronic machines before heading to the voting booths. People also stopped by the voting center to drop off their completed mail-in ballots at the drop box before heading back out the door.

By about 4 p.m., Clark County saw 8,582 people turn out for the first day of in-person early voting, a lower turnout than expected, Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said.

“It’s because of the weather. People decided to stay home. A lot of our sites are in tents, and you have to weather the wind,” Gloria said.

He said he saw many people drop off ballots at the drop boxes on the first day of early voting, and the county will begin processing those Sunday and will have more specific turnout numbers Monday.

Engaged voters

Ezzarhri said she is passionate about gun control in light of recent school shootings and also about climate change.

“I’m very passionate about climate change. I definitely believe there should be more education about that. It’s something that will affect us, that is affecting us now and will continue to affect us in the future,” she said.

Ezzarhri said she is particularly excited to vote for Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., because she is working to reduce climate change within the state.

Roberta Oslansky, a Henderson resident of 27 years, votes at the Galleria mall every election. It took her 10 minutes to vote at 10 a.m. Saturday, but in previous years she had to wait two hours to vote there.

Oslansky said she does not trust mail-in ballots and prefers voting in person, bringing her already-filled-out sample ballot. The price of gas and food, as well as immigration and crime, are issues important to her.

Henderson resident Fortunato Deocampo also voted at the mall, taking about 10 to 15 minutes to go through the process.

“I like to keep my Social Security and Medicare. Some party wants to get rid of that. I want to save our democracy,” Deocampo said.

At the East Las Vegas Library early voting center, a steady stream of voters flowed through the library all morning. Las Vegas resident James Buckley, wearing a mask and using crutches, brought along his sample ballot to help him vote Saturday. He just received a kidney transplant and was going to mail in his ballot instead of voting in person, but he made a mistake with it and had to discard the ballot.

“I don’t get out too much because I’m handicapped. I want my vote to count so I did what I had to do to get here,” Buckley said.

Buckley, a Democrat, likes incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. In the governor’s race, Buckley said he met Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and thinks he is nice, but he does not like his stances.

“Crime is up and he wants to be governor. I’m thinking, ‘OK. Well, you can do something now, can’t you? I mean, you’re the sheriff. I don’t see anything wrong with (Gov. Steve) Sisolak. He’s tried to keep us safe,” Buckley said.

Las Vegas resident Karina Castro said she is most concerned about crime and voted for Lombardo at the East Las Vegas Library.

“We just want change, and I think Joe Lombardo specifically, with the police and everything. is probably the best one right now for the city,” Castro said.

‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain’

At around 11:30 a.m. almost all the voting machines at the Boulevard Mall were occupied. While there wasn’t a line, there was a steady stream of people coming to vote or dropping off a mail ballot.

Peggy Thompson said the poll workers were friendly, helpful and made the process easy. She voted on a touch-screen voting machine and said apart from having to go back to a page she missed, everything went off without a hitch.

“If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain if things aren’t done,” Thompson said. “Because sometimes all it takes is one vote.”

Stephanie Prete and her husband, Adam Parascandola, came to vote on the first day of early voting because Parascandola will be traveling out of the country Sunday. He said he and his wife considered voting by mail but felt more comfortable voting in person.

“I think it’s become critically important to vote. For Las Vegas specifically we’re happy with the way the state is being run right now and I don’t want to see a lot of change,” Prete said. “I don’t want to see conservatives, election deniers, those kind of people taking over this wonderful state.”

Parascandola said he’s always been impressed with access to voting in Nevada and the different options people have to cast their vote.

“I believe very strongly that it is the duty of every citizen to cast a vote,” Parascandola said. “We all live in this country, we all have a say about how things are run and this is the way it works here.”

Meadows Mall was buzzing with Saturday afternoon activity. The voting center inside the mall was set up near an entrance and had constant foot traffic going by around 1 p.m. A small line of about four people waited for poll workers at the check in table to become available. One worker announced “First time voter!” which was met with applause from other volunteers.

Small lights at the top of each voting machine turned from green to red when someone began the process of voting.

Both Democrat and Republican campaigns held Get Out the Vote events Saturday, encouraging Nevadans to vote. Political organizations such as PLAN Action kicked off events with a block party celebration that will includes mariachi music, food trucks and a neighborhood canvasses.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, made several stops throughout rural Southern Nevada on his GOTV tour, which also included stops around Las Vegas, including Summerlin. He ended the day campaigning in Reno, where he was joined by other prominent Republicans, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

“We cannot afford to miss any person that we know. This is a time where we have to be bold. We have to go and talk politics. Our country is stake,” said Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

Laxalt slammed his opponent, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, for high gas prices and “the open border” and repeatedly tied the senator to President Joe Biden.

“So if you want to take back our state and you want to take back our country, this is our shot. And that’s all you need to do in the next 17 days. If you are not doing something to help us win this state, you need to commit to that today,” he told the crowd.

Just the day before at a Reno campaign event, Cortez Masto was joined by a group of Republicans who blasted Laxalt for his unwillingness to condemn the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and his continued efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

“Unlike her opponent, she always has our back and not just when it’s politically convenient for her,” said former Washoe Sheriff Mike Haley. “While Laxalt was leading efforts to overturn the results in Nevada’s free and fair elections in 2020, Senator Masto was working on bipartisan legislation to make our lives better.”

Cortez Masto emphasized her ability to “put party politics aside” and criticized her opponent for not standing with law enforcement following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“Police officers lost their lives. But to this day, even during that day, even at that moment, even weeks after, not once did I hear Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general who claims to stand with law enforcement, condemn what happened that day.”

At the Las Vegas headquarters of Culinary Union Local 226, hundreds of people gathered Saturday morning at a rally for Democratic candidates before heading out to canvass voters. Union leaders, Sisolak, Cortez Masto and U.S. Rep. Dina Titus fired up the crowd and highlighted the importance of voting in the election.

The crowd roared to life when the elected officials entered the hall. Sisolak led the crowd in a chant of “Si, se puede!”

“We have made so much progress in the last four years on worker rights. We’re going to do more on rent stabilization and protecting people’s job. But all the progress that we’ve made is on the line right now,” Sisolak said, stressing the importance of Democratic candidates winning their races. “Rest assured that (if they win) Catherine’s opponent, Dina’s opponent, my opponent, they’re going to unwind all of the good stuff that we did. They’re going to take your rights away from you.”

Aaron Rodriguez , who said affordable housing is an important issue for him, was one of the approximately 400 people from the Culinary Union who went out to knock on doors later Saturday.

“You’re expressing yourself and when you put that vote in there, that’s you speaking for yourself,” Rodriguez said. “You want government to do something; do something too.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter. Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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