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EDITORIAL: Plenty of reasons to participate in primary election

What if they held an election and nobody showed? OK, almost nobody.

A look at turnout over the past two decades in Nevada reveals that only the most committed voters typically cast ballots during primary elections. Participation among registered voters since 2004 has ranged from a high of near 30 percent to a low of less than 18 percent.

Even many civic-minded Nevadans take a pass during the primary, figuring they’ll wait until the general election when they have the run of the ballot. But there are several good reasons to make your voice heard in the June 11 balloting, even if you’re an independent.

For registered Republicans and Democrats, the task is clear: Select the candidates you believe will best represent your party in November.

This is particularly important for the GOP next month, as party voters must decide which candidates to run against well-funded Democratic incumbents in the U.S. House and Senate. Choices made by primary voters will have ramifications for which party controls Congress next year.

State Democrats and Republicans also have important choices to make in legislative races. Democrats are one seat shy in the state Senate from enjoying a supermajority in both houses. Voter preferences in a handful of legislative races will decide whether Republicans become largely irrelevant during the 2025 legislative session.

Independent voters may not participate in GOP or Democratic primaries, but they can help winnow the field — or potentially elect a winner outright — in a number of nonpartisan races on the ballot.

For instance, Las Vegas residents — regardless of voter registration — will soon select a new mayor. The primary ballot features 14 candidates vying to replace outgoing Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. The top two vote-getters will move on to the general election, unless one candidate wins outright by topping 50 percent on June 11.

Independent voters across the valley also have input in races for the Clark County School Board. Four seats on the panel are in play, and each features multiple candidates. The district’s struggles are well-documented, making it even more important for voters to fill these spots with candidates who will ensure that student achievement is the No. 1 priority.

Nonpartisan voters in Clark County are also eligible to participate in balloting for seats on the state Board of Education, Las Vegas Municipal Court, Las Vegas Justice Court and city councils in North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Henderson and Mesquite.

November’s general election will garner more attention and includes the race for the White House. But Nevada voters who choose to wait five months to express their preferences at the polls may be disappointed to find that much has already been decided.

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