Early voting ends as it began: Calm, normal

People line up for the last day of early voting at the Galleria at Sunset mall voting center. (Photo: Michael Lyle)

With the last day of early voting, all eyes are watching to see what the final rush to the polls will show. 

As of Friday afternoon, 1,021,253 ballots, about 56 percent of the state’s active voters, had already been cast. The more than one million ballots cast either by early voting or voting by mail as of Thursday was already equivalent to 91 percent of the total Nevada turnout in the 2016 presidential race, when Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the state.

Lawmakers boosted voting by mail to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 by passing legislation to automatically send ballots to all active registered voters. As of Friday, afternoon, 537,120 mail in ballots had been returned, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Another 484,133 voted early in person. Early voting began Oct. 19.

The dichotomy of voting in person versus mailing in ballots comes as the Trump campaign and statewide Republican groups, including the Nevada GOP, have launched numerous lawsuits across the country to either try to shorten voting periods, curtail or halt acceptance of mail-in ballots after Nov. 3, or as in Nevada, stop or stall the counting of some ballots altogether. 

Yet, people in line Friday didn’t seem phased by the lawsuits. 

Melissa Olvera, who dropped off her ballot at the Galleria at Sunset mall location, said she wasn’t concerned about filling out a mail-in ballot and was choosing the option out of convenience. She decided to hand-deliver it to a voting site rather than putting it in the mail just to ensure it gets in on time.

“I just wanted to get it done quicker,” she said. “I don’t think (mail-in ballots) are a big deal. You’re able to do it every year.”

Nevada is one of a few states that accepts mail-in ballots up to seven days after Election Day as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3.

While some voters aren’t particularly energized to vote, they realized it is still important.

“I feel like it was important for me to vote because it does change a lot in our world,” said Arianna Sierra, a first-time voter who dropped off her ballot Friday. “At first I wasn’t planning on voting because I’m not big into politics. But I know a lot of my friends and my family have voted. I know I had to do my part as well.”

Adrian George, who also dropped off his ballot, said he hasn’t been as enthusiastic as other people.

“I know there is a really big voting movement and I know it’s important. It’s great seeing other people enthusiastic about it,” he said.

Nevertheless, they came out and chose candidates who best matched their beliefs.   

For Sierra, it was people who aligned with her on topics like health care and climate change.

George’s top concern was getting a president who could do a better job at handling the pandemic as well as “not having a crazy person in office.”

“With the new Supreme Court Justice, I feel there are more conservative people now so that’s nerve-racking because that means they can overturn gay marriage,” he said referring to the recent appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Dan Heffly, who stood in line about 30 minutes, said his vote was about getting the country “back on track.” 

“We need to get Covid under control,” he said. “Covid has had a devastating effect on the economy. There is a solution between the two parties. They are too opposite of each other so we need to meet in the middle so we don’t destroy people’s livelihoods and businesses.” 

While attention in Nevada and the nation has been gripped by the presidential race, Olvera said she was most eager to vote on the ballot measures. 

“Question 6 on climate change was really important to me because I think it’s important we bring clean energy here,” she said. “Also voting for same sex marriage (Question 2) because I believe everyone should love who they love.”

In addition to voting by mail – provided ballots are postmarked no later than Nov. 3 – voters can also drop their mail-in ballots into a box Tuesday at Election Day polling places. That option might be especially attractive if voting lines are long Tuesday. (For other helpful reminders as Election Day nears, click here.)

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.