Tuesday’s Nevada primary: The results are in the mail

But in-person voters faced long waits and a cumbersome process

coulda mailed it tho
Voters outside the Paradise Recreation Center during the 2020 June primary. (Nevada Current file photo)

The primary election of 2020 will likely be the most convenient voting experience in memory for some, and for others, it will be remembered as a time-consuming nightmare, with some waiting six hours to cast a ballot in person.  

Voters had until Tuesday to have their mail-in ballots postmarked. Official results for the final 2020 primary election results won’t be posted until June 19, the date election officials expect all ballots to be counted and certified. Still, there was some hope, perhaps especially among candidates, that enough results would be available election night to indicate the outcome of at least a few races.

Finally early Wednesday morning, results began to trickle in.

In the third congressional district Republican primary, Dan Rodimer had 43.5 percent of the vote, followed by his closest competitor Dan Schwartz with 32.6 percent of the vote.

Republicans see CD3 as a potentially competitive race. The seat is currently held by Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat, but President Trump won the district by one percentage point in 2016. 

Lee enjoyed a commanding lead in her Democratic Primary with 83 percent of the vote. 

In the Fourth Congressional District Republicans are choosing a challenger to Democratic incumbent Rep. Steven Horsford, who was on the way to winning his primary Wednesday with 77 percent of the vote.

In the Republican Primary for the seat, Jim Marchant, a former state assemblyman who has portrayed himself as a Trump loyalist, pulled ahead of the pack with 40 percent of the vote in a crowded field.

In the second congressional district that includes Washoe County and most of rural Nevada, Patricia Ackerman was leading several candidates with 49 percent of the vote. Clint Koble is a distant second with 22 percent. The winner will take on GOP Rep. Mark Amodei in the general election. A Democrat has never won in CD2.

In a competitive Democratic primary for state Senate District 7, Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel is leading preliminary results with 40 percent, followed by Roberta Lange at 32 percent and Assemblyman Richard Carillo at 27 percent.

Two state Supreme Court seats are on the primary ballot.

District Court Judge Douglas Herndon, who has 46 percent, appears to be headed for a runoff with state Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo, who has 32 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Supreme Court Chief Justice Kristina Pickering is likely to win the race in the primary. She has 58 percent over Esther Rodriguez, who has 20 percent.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted officials to transform the primary election into a mostly by mail affair, and Nevadans seemed to embrace the change. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office reported nearly 370,000 Nevadans had voted, and more than 365,000 them by mail. By comparison, slightly less than 330,000 voters cast ballots in the 2018 primary.

But those opting to vote on election day had limited options and an unfamiliar process. And those long wait lines.

Clark County’s Election Department only had three in-person voting locations available on election day leading to three hour wait times for many voters. Wait times at Washoe County’s only in-person polling place were over two hours long.

Outside the Paradise Recreation Center, Allen Emm paced back and forth while his wife finished voting inside one of just three in-person voting locations in Clark County.

Emm arrived at 8 a.m. and waited three hours to cast his ballot. 

“I don’t trust mail ballots because I think it’s too easy to manipulate and would rather use a computer,” he said. “I thought I was going to use a voting machine here but it was all paper. I don’t appreciate that’s the only option but what other choice did I have?”

Emm cast his ballot at about 11 a.m., four hours after his quest began when when he arrived at the Galleria at Sunset mall, which he thought was a voting location. 

A Henderson Police Department officer in the parking lot directed him to Henderson City Hall. 

“But that was only a ballot drop off location,” Emm said. “A lady there gave me a slip of paper with all the locations of in-person voting.”

The gymnasium inside the recreation center has 15 ballot stations.  Most were empty as workers printed out paper ballots and worked through a myriad of issues.

Emm estimates it took him two and a half hours to even get to a worker.

“Those poor workers, it’s like they are doing on-the-job training as they read out of a pamphlet on what to do,” he said. “They are holding up red and yellow cards (signaling they need help) and nobody is coming.”

It took Emm five minutes to complete his ballot. Other voters stayed in line hours after polls closed at 7 p.m. to cast ballots in Southern Nevada because of the long lines.

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A voter casts his ballot inside the Paradise Recreation Center, one of three in-person places for voting in the Primary Election. (Photo: Michael Lyle)

“As predicted, despite the Secretary of State moving Nevada’s primary to an all-mail election, many Nevada voters still participated in person,” said Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy in a statement Tuesday night.  

McCurdy, who as of Wednesday morning had 42 percent of the vote and a large lead over five other candidates for a Clark County Commission seat, criticized Cegavske’s earlier attempt to limit in-person voting, adding that the Nevada State Democratic Party sued the state to increase the number of in-person polling locations in order to prevent long wait times.

“Had the Secretary of State gotten her way and Clark County voters were limited to just a single polling location, these wait times would have been even longer than the ones we’re seeing now,” McCurdy said. “It is imperative the state offer an adequate amount of hygienic, well-organized polling locations and we will continue fighting for these improvements to prevent a repeat in November should we find ourselves under the same circumstances.”

This year’s election presented new obstacles for the state amid the pandemic, from social distancing to executing the states first primarily mail in ballot election. 

As all the mail-in ballots are counted between June 11 and June 17, election officials will post updated results online each day at around 9 a.m. Clark County election results can be found here, and here is the Secretary of State’s results page.