Why Don’t People in Nevada Vote?


NBC News



Editor’s Note: This report is part of a project on voting rights in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program.

LAS VEGAS — From behind the wheel of a black Chrysler minivan, Joseph Paul Gloria surveys the sun-scorched streets of Las Vegas. Gloria is the registrar of voters for Clark County, home to Las Vegas and nearly three-fourths of the Silver State’s population. On this day in June, as he visits various polling locations, the two-week early voting period for the state’s primary election is only a day from wrapping up. Suddenly, his phone rings.

One of the county’s early voting locations, inside a library, has been hit with a power outage. The library staff has closed up and gone home. Gloria’s poll workers will do no such thing. Within 30 minutes of the outage, an emergency response team brings in everything the polling location will need to keep going: a generator, fans, water, ice and lights.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure that as people are driving up they’re aware that we’re still open despite the library,” says Gloria. His subordinate agrees and positions herself in front of the library to reassure people that the polls are still open. Through all the chaos, not a single voter is turned away.

This is representative of a state where registration and access to the polls has been made exceedingly easy. Nevada offers two weeks of early voting before each primary and general election. Nevada residents may request absentee ballots for any reason, without having to provide a specific, qualifying excuse, something required by several other states. Nevadans overseas on military duty or for any other reason may obtain an electronic ballot and return it by fax or email.

There are no voter ID requirements at the polls in Nevada. In addition to registering to vote through their county registrar’s office or at the Department of Motor Vehicles, residents can register online, including via cellphone app. Clark County uses mobile voting trailers to bring polls closer to people who might not have easy access.