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Low primary turnout means county spent $9.20 a voter
by Jill Lufrano - jlufrano@dailysparkstribune.com
Jun 13, 2012 | 1024 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — Washoe County voters trickled down to the ballot boxes in record-low numbers Tuesday — the lowest the county has seen as far back in history as workers can reach — only reaching 19.9 percent by the end of primary election night.

“It’s disappointing,” Washoe County Registrar Dan Burk said Wednesday afternoon. “In recent history, this is the lowest.”

The cost the county paid to put on the election, which was $400,000, with the total turnout at nearly 43,500 equates to $9.20 per person.

A total of 19.9 percent of the 217,905 registered voters cast ballots, voted absentee, walked in on primary day or voted early. Nearly 9.8 percent, or 21,317 voters, cast ballots by early voting, compared to the 19,474, or 8.9 percent, who voted on Tuesday.

Of the 86,310 Republican voters in Washoe County, 27.1 percent voted in the primary, compared to 19.4 percent of the 82,646 Democrats.

During election night, the county sent out a press release, encouraging voters to visit one of the 85 polling stations open until 7 p.m. Despite encouragement, few or no lines existed at many of the ballot sites, Burk said.

Nevada voters, in general, equaled the same percentage as Washoe county. Statewide, only 19 percent of voters participated in the primary elections.

The percentages is a significant drop from the 30 percent statewide voter turnout in the 2010 primaries.

The numbers suggest that Republicans statewide in Nevada’s largely rural counties were more eager to turn in their ballots than voters in urban Reno and Las Vegas.

If the trend continues in November, it might spell trouble for Democrats.

Eureka County had the highest turnout at 56 percent. Washoe and Clark counties had the lowest at 19.9 and 16 percent respectively.

The primary election merely selects those candidates to be placed on the general election ballot, Burk said.

“You elect at a general election,” he said.

The primaries do cull the list of candidates to a smaller bunch that spend the next few months racing for their seat.

One spot for Reno City Council, though it is a non-partisan position, is now down to two candidates. Kitty Jung, who has come under scrutiny lately for possible abuse of power as a Washoe County commissioner, will run against Neoma Jardon. Jung received 40.28 percent, while Jardon got 46 percent.

The seat for county commissioner in District 4 went to Vaughn Hartung, who posted 59 percent, which means his name will be the only one placed on the November ballot. If only one voter votes for him, he automatically wins the seat.

To view final results of the election, visit www.washoecounty.us/voters.
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Low primary turnout means county spent $9.20 a voter by Jill Lufrano - jlufrano@dailysparkstribune.com


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