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

Nevada primary shows potentially high turnout, but also high levels of donations

Someone's hand puts a ballot into a drop box.
Cindy Shebley
Flickr Creative Commons

Washoe County elections officials are still counting votes from Tuesday’s primary election. But experts are already celebrating the level of engagement at the polls.

According to Fred Lokken, political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, voter turnout in the 2024 primary election is likely to have been much higher than in past cycles.

“The process is working flawlessly,” he said.

Lokken chalks that up to Nevada’s new voting system, which sends mail ballots to active voters by default. It was adopted by lawmakers during a COVID-era special legislative session, as a means of mitigating viral transmission during the 2020 race.

“I'm very proud of a state that really launched this out of necessity during a pandemic,” Lokken explained. “It's already done fantastic refinements to it.”

Lokken said Nevada used to see very low primary turnout, but the convenience of voting from home has improved voter access.

Now that the primary election is in the rearview mirror, successful candidates will have to gear up for November.

But campaign finance reports already show intense fundraising – even for traditionally low-cost races, like school board.

“We’ve never seen this much money in politics,” Lokken said. “To know that this money is now coming down to this level is unnerving.”

Lokken said that’s because campaign donations come with agendas, and large donors can have outsized influence in down-ballot races.

The photo included above is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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