Early voting started Saturday for the April 7 municipal election primary. You’ve probably seen the campaign signs. You might have seen a few mailers and TV ads. Or maybe you’ve ignored them.
Candidates are working hard for votes because so few are expected to be cast. Turnout for Clark County’s municipal elections is pathetic, often as low as 10 percent. Residents of Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas simply aren’t engaged in politics so soon after statewide elections. That’s too bad, because they have countless reasons to care about the governance of their communities.
The Las Vegas City Council tried to build a tax-subsidized soccer stadium against the public’s wishes. The Henderson City Council considered a property tax increase even as it gave its employees pay raises. And North Las Vegas government, which avoided state receivership by a whisker, is fighting to remain solvent. Are those good enough reasons to vote?
Citizens have a duty to educate themselves about candidates for office and cast informed votes for their representatives in government. The public loves to complain about politicians and their performance, but those complaints lack credibility if someone never bothered to cast a ballot in the first place.
What makes the valley’s voter apathy even more maddening is the fact that untold numbers of ineligible voters go to the polls each municipal cycle, only to learn they can’t cast a ballot. Nearly half of the valley’s electorate lives in unincorportated Clark County. Their mailing addresses say “Las Vegas,” but they don’t live in the city of Las Vegas. Thus, they can’t vote in city elections. Their eagerness to vote shames everyone who claims they can’t find the time to do so.
And those who figure they can vote in the June 2 general election might not get the chance. Nonpartisan municipal primaries are unlike statewide elections. Even in races with more than two entries, a single candidate can win election outright in the primary — and avoid the June runoff — by getting the majority of total votes cast. In races with only two candidates, there will be no runoff — a winner is guaranteed.
Early voting lasts two weeks. That’s plenty of time to learn about the offices on your ballot and the candidates seeking election. And the Review-Journal offers resources to help citizens cast an informed vote. At reviewjournal.com, voters can find more information about candidates and the races on their ballots. Just click on the “Politics” button to find stories about city elections. Additionally, the Review-Journal editorial board provided endorsements in city contests. For Las Vegas City Council, the newspaper endorsed Lois Tarkanian in Ward 1, Megan Heryet in Ward 3 and Randy Voyard in Ward 5. For Las Vegas Municipal Court, Department 1, the newspaper endorsed Judge Cynthia Leung. (The newspaper offered no endorsement for Las Vegas mayor.) For Henderson City Council, the newspaper endorsed Eddie Hamilton in Ward 1, Crystal Hendrickson in Ward 2 and Derek Uehara in Ward 4. For North Las Vegas City Council, the newspaper endorsed Pamela Goynes-Brown in Ward 2 and Richard Cherchio in Ward 4. You can find detailed explanations of the endorsements at reviewjournal.com by clicking on the “Opinion” button and reading the endorsement editorials.
Don’t resolve to blow off this year’s primary election. And if you go to the polls, but haven’t taken the time to educate yourself about a particular race, leave it blank. Don’t cast an uninformed vote. You’ll cancel out an informed ballot.
Put in the effort to make your governments better and more accountable.