October 22, 2018 - 2:35 pm
Updated October 22, 2018 - 7:03 pm
Only two days of early voting in Nevada are in the books, but the record-setting numbers signify an “unusually high” midterm election turnout.
Nearly 70,000 voters statewide cast their ballots on Saturday and Sunday, compared to about 27,000 voters at this point during the 2014 midterm election. Of the votes cast, nearly 32,000 have come from registered Democrats and more than 25,000 from registered Republicans.
“I think you’re going to see good Democratic turnout,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Overall it seems like voter turnout is going to be higher than usual. It’s not surprising to me that the turnout is high because I think the interest is high as well.”
Kondik said a mix of factors are behind the record-setting numbers for a non-presidential election, although voters are not hitting the polls like they did in 2016, when more than 92,000 ballots were cast on the first two days — and 339,000 in the first week — of early voting
In 2014, nationwide voter turnout was abysmally low — 37 percent — the lowest for a midterm since 1942.
Nevada saw 45 percent turnout four years ago, despite having no Senate race and a popular governor running for re-election, so more voters are expected with more attention focused on the top of the ballot, Kondik said.
“Nevada went from basically having no high-profile statewide races in 14, to two high-profile statewide races in 18,” he said.
More broadly, there’s a great deal of interest in politics, Kondik said. Nevada’s numbers are not unique.
“People are dismayed about what’s going on,” he said. “And not holding the White House can spur a turnout from the out party.”
The popularity of early voting also is catching on.
“In places where they have access to early voting, voters are increasingly taking advantage of that option,” Kondik said. “It’s an organic growth in the use of early voting as voters become more accustomed to it over time.”
A report from the Election Administration and Voting Survey revealed that the number of early voting ballots increased from about 10 million in 2004 to just over 24 million in 2016.
In Clark County, voters cast 54,177 ballots in the first two days of the two-week early voting period compared to 17,512 in 2014. Statewide in 2014, 111,8111 ballots were cast during the first week of early voting.
“The turnout has been great,” said Joe Gloria, Clark County’s registrar of voters. “Voters are obviously excited about this election and they’re getting out to express their voice in the community by voting.”
He said everything has gone well and that no major problems have been reported. Wait times change throughout the day, Gloria said, and voters have been patient.
He said the malls are better prepared to handle large volumes of people, while the neighborhood sites have a smaller number of machines.
“We put out as many machines as we can to keep the process going as efficiently as possible,” he said.
He added one piece of advice: don’t wait until the last two days of early voting.
“Because I can guarantee you that the wait at a vote center — it will be longer,” he said.
Election Day is Nov. 6.