Here's What Voters Need To Know About The Primary Election

May 24, 2018

Early voting for Nevada's primary election begins Saturday, but what's on the ballot and what do voters need to know before they head to the polls? KUNR's Paul Boger spoke with Deanna Spikula, the Washoe County Registrar of Voters, to find out more.

Deanna, thank you so much for joining me. Let's talk about how the primary is different than the general election.

In the state of Nevada, we have closed primaries. That means that you have to be registered as either a Republican or a Democratic party-affiliated registered voter in order to see those races, a partisan race, on your ballot, so it's the first thing people want to check if they're interested in a certain race either on the Republican or Democratic side. They will need to make sure they're affiliated and their registration and their party affiliation is the same, so they can vote on that race. It's all a bit different; some states don't do that. Our primary elections are nominating elections, so basically, we're kind of thinning the herd, so to speak, and narrowing down the field for the general election. That's how our primary elections are different from our general election.

So voters affiliated with party will be able to vote for partisan offices but independents don't. What will they be able to vote on?

It depends on the office. Most statewide offices, federal offices, are partisan offices. County offices are partisan. Our nonpartisan offices would be the school board, GIDs or general improvement districts, sheriff and city offices are all nonpartisan. Also, our supreme court, justice of the peace, district court judges, municipal court judges--those types of offices are also nonpartisan.

There's a significant number of people running for office in Washoe County, right?

Yeah, it's a longer ballot than we usually have in presidential years because we have all the statewide offices and a good chunk of the cities. We've got the mayors and a few county seats and two city council seats. The mayor's races always bring out a lot of candidates, a lot of more people, so we have both the City of Reno and the City of Sparks mayors. They will be on the primary because enough people filed.

So early voting begins this weekend. Tell me a little bit about that.

Well, you run two weeks of early voting. Early voting for this primary begins May 26th through June 8th. We have 20 locations out around the community. There's retail stores, there's grocery stores, places like that.

What do voters need to know before they head to the polls? Is this a voter I.D. state?
We do a signature verification at the polls, so if you haven't changed your signature since registration, we'll match the signature to verify your identity at the polls. You know, we always encourage people to take their sample ballot with them. That will actually help the poll worker identify who they are more quickly at the check-in station. There's a barcode on your label that they can scan and get you signed in really quick. Otherwise, they will just ask you your last name and first name and get you pulled up and will do the signature verification, get your card and get you voting.

Finally, where can residents go to learn more?

We have a ton of information on our website: There you can find information on the 2018 elections. You can get polling place information, you can view your sample ballot. We also have information about absentee ballots if you've requested one. We have information about when we process that request, when we packaged it and mailed it, and -- if you returned it -- the day that we got it.

You can look up information about the candidates. We have a candidate profile page where they can add information regarding their qualifications and the things that they want voters to know. You can also view all the offices that are on the ballot for the primary election on our website. You can get early voting locations and hours and also Election Day polling place locations and precincts assigned to them. We have a ton of information on our website; it's a great place to go for resources. If you can't find what you're looking for online, you can call our office.