Given the number of judicial races on Tuesday’s primary ballot, you’d think voters might have at least marked their sample ballots before heading to the early polls.
But when I talked to about 10 voters outside early voting locations in northwest Las Vegas last week, it became readily apparent most were just stopping by to keep their turnout record intact.
One woman voting at the Albertson’s at Buffalo and Vegas drives wasn’t shy about telling me she was clueless when it came to the race for the state’s highest court. "I saw a commercial on TV and figured I’d vote for the woman," she said as she left the site last Thursday. "But the commercial I saw had a Kris and then there were other women on the ballot. I didn’t know anything about them, so I skipped it."
Next she told me she voted for the incumbents in several local judicial races, including Jamie Kent and Bill Henderson.
I told her that while she’s seen Henderson’s name on the ballot plenty of times, he’s never been elected before. I also let her know the real incumbent in the Family Court seat she referenced was Lisa Kent, not her opponent Jamie Kent.
"That’s OK," she said, matter-of-factly. "They probably could use my support."
The only thing this voter clammed up about was her identity. "I thought this was the primary for president," she said. "That’s why I really came."
She said she thought the caucuses in January were totally unrelated to the presidential primary process and that Nevada could be the final say for the nomination.
Her candidate? Ron Paul. "I want change," she said.
A few minutes later, Ronald Simmons emerged from the same site only slightly more informed.
"I went to vote against Shelley Berkley," the Republican voter said. "Only, I wasn’t sure which one of the Republicans to support."
Simmons said he settled on Kenneth Wegner because he had seen a roadside sign of the candidate’s that seemed to gel with his issues.
In the judicial races, he offered: "I’m tired of voters just picking the women. That’s how we got that Halverson."
Simmons was my fifth interview and the first who could actually name a judge, even if it was the very visible Elizabeth Halverson.
I asked him who he chose for Halverson’s District Court Department 23 seat given his previously stated dislike of the gender advantage by female judicial candidates. He said he went with Stefany Miley. "They said she was OK," he explained.
Maybe the "they" were women.
A.J. Perkins voted at a trailer outside the Whole Foods Market on Lake Mead Boulevard near Tenaya Way on Thursday. He said he figured he wasn’t going to learn anything new about the race by primary day.
"There’s not a whole lot of information in the paper and there’s nothing on TV at all," Perkins said. "I look at my mail and do my best to find out." Perkins said he skipped "about 10" of the judicial races. There are 11 contested races for Las Vegas voters.
As someone who covers politics, it’s my business to know about the various candidates and officeholders. But as a voter, I also sometimes find myself confused after poring over every snippet of information about some of these races.
I don’t think we can go wrong with any of the four candidates for the open Supreme Court seat and I don’t think we can go right with any of the candidates for Department 23.
I’m hoping to figure those races out by Tuesday. At least I still have two days to decide. For some voters, it’s already too late.
Contact Erin Neff at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.