Sparse Turnout in Nevada Primary Contests with Limited Choices on the Ballot

Credits: Berkeley County Government

In decades, Nevada’s inaugural presidential primary has witnessed lackluster voter participation, particularly on the Democratic side, as early and mail-in voting dominated. At the same time, Republicans geared up for separate caucuses on Thursday.

The state reported a modest 3,800 voters in the first three hours of primary day, with President Joe Biden facing minimal Democratic opposition and Donald Trump not even featured on the Republican ballot.

The state’s Republicans are preparing for caucuses on Thursday to determine delegates for the national convention. While some Republicans on Tuesday supported Trump by voting for “None of These Candidates,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appeared on the primary ballot.

Nevada Primary Contests (Credits: Newsweek)

Both parties shifted from caucuses to a primary for the 2024 election, following new Democratic National Committee rules discouraging caucuses and altering the primary calendar.

The weather and competing interests, such as Las Vegas’ first Super Bowl on Sunday, were cited as factors contributing to the low turnout. Confusion among Republicans, who had two options on Tuesday and a separate caucus on Thursday, also played a role.

By midday, voter turnout was notably low, with only 30 people voting at Martha King Elementary School in Boulder City. Some voters expressed frustration with the changed rules and believed Trump would be the eventual nominee.

Despite the underwhelming turnout, Democrats emphasized strong early and mail-in balloting, positioning it as a crucial organizing test for the general election. The Nevada Democratic Party highlighted the nearly matched turnout in early voting compared to the highly competitive 2020 Democratic caucuses.

Wanda Maria Pacheco Newton, a voter in Las Vegas, praised Biden’s performance but expressed regret that he wasn’t adequately recognized. The Biden campaign sees Nevada as an essential battleground, emphasizing early engagement with communities vital to their electoral success.

The overall turnout in Nevada, including early, mail, and in-person voting, trailed New Hampshire’s more than 450,000 votes in the January primary. Despite Biden being absent from the ballot, the combined turnout in Nevada was slightly lower than South Carolina’s Democratic primary.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., suggested reversing the Democratic National Committee’s decision not to seat New Hampshire’s delegates, advocating for unity and collaboration toward victory in November. Clyburn commended New Hampshire Democrats who ran a grassroots write-in campaign, viewing it as a positive sign for the party.

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