The Washoe County Registrar of Voters office reported record-breaking numbers for the first weekend of early voting, which began on Oct. 20, surpassing the 2008 presidential election numbers by more than 5,000 ballots (14,475 to 9,036). Washoe County Deputy Registrar Luanne Cutler said the two-week early voting session decreases some traffic on election day and boosts overall turnout.
“When we first began holding early voting it was held out of the Washoe County office and it was very small and was not publicized,” she said. “When things began to pick up, through word of mouth or whatever reason, it kind of took on a life of its own. Obviously it is more convenient, but I think it is helping to produce a better turnout than we would otherwise have.”
Cutler said as of 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, the overall number of early voting ballots cast was nearing the 65,000 mark just five days before the end of early voting. The 2008 election brought a record 101,787 early voters to the polls out of 231,400 registered voters in the county. This year 241,400 voters have registered, 8,800 of which have voted at a single location.
“The Scolari’s on Disc Drive is always, without a doubt, our heaviest location for early voting,” Cutler said. “They have 8,800 ballots cast already, which is 2,000 higher than the next closest location in Sparks, which is Legends.”
Cutler said there are 22 locations around the county to vote before the Friday deadline, five of which are in Sparks. The Scolari’s and Legends locations are open seven days a week while the Sparks and Spanish Springs libraries vary on business hours. Sparks City Hall is open Monday through Friday.
“Sparks City Hall is seeing almost nobody and has had only a little more than 500 people voting there,” she said. “That is a great place to go if you are in a hurry.”
Cutler said the final week of voting will likely see an uptick in voter turnout, a prevailing trend during presidential elections. She said it is too soon to tell if record numbers will be shown at the polls.
“I have heard that Washoe County has one of the longer early voting periods in the country and usually as we get further along the numbers pick up again,” she said. “People are anxious to vote. There is a tremendous amount of interest over this election and I have even heard people say that they are going to vote early so that the phone calls will stop.”
Today is the last day to file an absentee ballot, which must be submitted by 5 p.m., and early voting will end Friday with the General Election happening Nov. 6. Cutler said being prepared before heading to vote will help speed up the process and ensure accuracy at the voting booth.
“We do always encourage people to bring a sample ballot to the polls to help speed up the process,” she said. “It helps ensure there is no trouble finding you in the computer. We also suggest reading over the choices before going and to have your decisions made ahead of time. It ends up speeding the process for everyone.”
For a full list of voting locations throughout the county, visit www.washoecounty.us/voters/12EVSchedule and to track daily polling numbers visit www.washoecounty.us/voters/11SPECEVTO.