Low Turnout Expected in Municipal Primaries - 8 News NOW

Low Turnout Expected in Municipal Primaries

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LAS VEGAS - The primary election for the valley's municipal races takes place Tuesday, but election officials expect very low turnout.

During last year's presidential race, 80 percent of registered voters voted. Election officials expect 10 percent turnout for the municipal primary, in part because many voters will only see one race on their ballots.

Less than 7,000 people voted early in Las Vegas.

Learn More About the 2013 Municipal Primary Elections

Candidates in Henderson, North Las Vegas, Mesquite and Las Vegas are running for city council, mayor and municipal judge. The ballots are small, but the primary election is important. If a candidate wins by a 50-percent majority, that candidate bypasses the general election and wins the seat. The candidate could be sworn into office as early as this month.

State legislators have tried to increase turnout by giving cities the option to have their elections coincide with federal, state and county elections. Many candidates oppose the idea.

"It's going to be very difficult for a city councilman to get much attention," said Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax. "They're going to appear last on the ballot… There's a lot of contests on the ballot, and they also have to compete for money to run their campaign(s). So, from the candidates perspective, they would much rather have those elections separate."

Henderson City Clerk Sabrina Mercadante argues combining those elections would do little to help the local election process.

"There would be so much information on the federal and state ballot that the municipal information would be more information added to that, and voters would suffer from voter fatigue by the time they got to the end of the ballot," she said.

Lomax says these cash-strapped cities pay about $1 million for these elections. The last mayoral election for Henderson cost approximately $140,000.

Mercadante says they expect more voters this time, because the city uses nonspecific voting sites that anyone can use. The city has also campaigned to educate voters about the candidates.

According to an 8 News NOW online poll of nearly 500 respondents, not many people are planning to vote or even know an election is taking place.

When asked about Tuesday's primary election, 13 percent said they plan to vote. Thirty six percent said they do not. Twelve percent said they voted early. Nearly 39 percent said they were unaware an election was taking place.

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