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Stories from the KUNR newsroom and regional partners related to the 2024 elections

Nevada voters discuss Trump, high prices, access to the polls during early voting for the primary

Three self-standing signs outdoors. Two can be read and say, “Vote here” with an arrow, and “Vote Here Today.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Signs leading voters to the early polling site inside Fernley Municipal Court in Nev. on Jan. 27, 2024.

The first day of early voting for the 2024 Nevada Presidential Preference Primary kicked off on Jan. 27 for registered Republicans and Democrats. KUNR spoke with voters throughout Fernley, Fallon, and Sparks.

Rural Nevadans express love or hate for Trump at the polls

Most polling sites welcomed voters at 10 a.m. across the state, but the polls opened at 9 a.m. in Fernley. Christine Lyon was the first person in line at Fernley Municipal Court. She said one of the biggest issues for her is inflation.

“I hardly ever go out anymore. I now get to work from home, so that helps in gas,” Lyon said. “I don’t eat a lot because I just can’t afford it. I’m retired, but I do work because I can’t afford not to.”

A woman wearing a fuzzy plaid jacket and sunglasses is standing outdoors and looking toward the camera while smiling. She’s standing in front of a glass door with a sign on it that reads, “Polling place for early voting.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Christine Lyon before casting her ballot in the Nevada Presidential Preference Primary in Fernley, Nev., on Jan. 27, 2024.

Lyon will be caucusing for former President Donald Trump on Feb. 8 because he doesn’t mince words. But she said she always votes early and will pick the lesser of the evils in the primary.

Registered Republican voters in Nevada will have two opportunities to make their voices heard — the state-run primary and the Republican Party-run caucus that takes place two days later.

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is on Nevada’s primary ballot, while Trump’s name will appear at the caucus. But Haley won’t get any delegates because the party decided the primary is non-binding.

Some Trump supporters symbolically participated in the primary and voted for “none of the above,” like rural Fernley resident Chris LaRue. This is something Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said he will do.

“[Haley] is not in the race for any other reason except to get [Joe] Biden elected,” LaRue said.

Voters can participate in both the primary and caucus, but candidates could only participate in one or the other, according to party rules.

LaRue is also impacted by high prices, particularly his heating and water bills.

“I started to do my laundry at a laundromat because my water bill is $113, and I live alone,” LaRue said.

But voter confusion remains around the primary and caucus. Fallon residents and veterans Sue and Ken Catlin said they got information for the first time about the caucus when they showed up to cast their early primary ballots. The couple support Trump but likely won’t go to the caucus.

“I’d rather have the primary,” Sue said. “Here’s two voters who may not be able to attend the caucus for physical reasons making it difficult, so even if I wanted to, they lose two votes.”

Voters can reach out to their county’s Republican Party if they need an ADA accommodation, according to Nevada GOP leadership.

The Catlins, who said they’ve been voting ever since they could, also chose “none of the above” when casting their ballots.

But not all rural Nevadans are sold on Trump. Fernley resident Steve Anderson used to be a lifelong Republican.

“Anybody but Trump, how’s that sound? That’s the worst thing this country’s got going on,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the final straw was when Lyon County commissioners voted to rename the justice complex in Yerington, which includes the sheriff’s office, jail, and courthouses, after Trump.

The only person left competing against Trump in the caucus is Ryan Binkley. It’s almost guaranteed Trump will get all of Nevada’s 26 Republican delegates. Meanwhile, Haley supporters in Nevada have expressed frustration and disappointment in the two processes.

Community members aim to increase participation for all voters

This is the second election there has been an in-person polling site on the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe reservation at the Community Learning Center.

LaCarrie McCloud Alvarez lives in the Lovelock Paiute Tribe colony and is the head cook for the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Senior Center. She’s been active in encouraging tribal community members to vote.

“A lot of the elders, a lot of the community, especially in Native land, I’ve seen a lot of people not comfortable with going into town, or transportation, and it’s just real rural out here,” McCloud Alvarez said. “So it’s good that the Native people can utilize the center with other Native people they’re comfortable with. Just so that their voice can be heard.”

A young woman is standing outdoors while smiling and looking toward the camera. She’s wearing a shirt that reads, “Use Your Vote.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Malayla Harding at the Get Out The Vote party she helped organize behind the Sparks Library in Nev. on Jan. 27, 2024.

At the Sparks Library, there were families, food, and parking lot games for a Get Out The Vote party. Reed High School senior Malayla Harding helped organize it.

“Throwing this party with games and face painting stations encourages people from everywhere, breaking the stigmatism [sic] that only a certain group of people can go and vote. If you have children, and you need to come vote, you can come here,” Harding said.

Harding is with All Voting is Local and Upward Bound, a college readiness program for first-generation students.

“It’s so important for this uprising generation to get out there and put their word in because everything we’re voting for now affects us in the future,” Harding said.

It was also Harding’s first time voting. She said she cares about most social issues and found the voting process quick and easy.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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