Voter Registration Ends in Nevada

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Voter registration for the Sept. 7 Nevada primary ended Tuesday - with Democrats adding a bit to the slight edge they now have over Republicans - their first registration advantage in 2 1/2 years.

Reports from local election officials now show there are at least 950,906 registered voters in the state, although some of the new registrants won't be eligible for the primary and will have to wait until the Nov. 2 election to cast ballots.

The total includes 385,437 Democrats and 384,451 Republicans - a difference of 986. The Democrats represent 40.5 percent and the Republicans account for 40.4 percent of the total. The rest are nonpartisans and splinter-party members.

"Our goal was to have 1 million Nevadans registered to vote,and it looks like we have a very good chance of not only meeting that goal but surpassing it," said Steve George, spokesman for Secretary of State Dean Heller.

George noted that just before the November 2000 presidential election Nevada's registered voter total was 878,970.

Republicans held a slight edge as recently as two weeks ago. But Democrats benefited from a big surge as a partial registration deadline hit on Aug. 7. That marked the deadline for registering by mail or at satellite locations for the Sept. 7 primary.

People were able to register through Tuesday, but had to do so in person at main offices for election officials around the state. For the Nov. 2 general election, the shut-off date for registration is Oct. 12.

Democrats say their get-out-the-vote efforts have given them an edge, but Republicans are questioning whether a lot of the Democrats' newly registered voters will actually make it to the polls.

While registration is rising, mainly due to interest in the presidential race and in contentious initiative petitions, state Demographer Jeff Hardcastle has noted there are nearly 1.7 million eligible voters. That means about 750,000 Nevadans who could vote haven't registered.

Heller has said he hopes to see an eventual registration "well above the 65 percent mark." Now it's at about 56 percent. But even if 70 percent of the possible voters signed up, half a million eligible Nevadans still would be absent from the polls this fall.

While some Nevadans who registered thought they'd be able to vote in both the primary and general elections, Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said Monday that several organizations that were registering people didn't turn in their paperwork on time for the primary.

Lomax noted about 1,500 applications were turned in a full week late. The deadline was the same as that for mail-in or satellite location registrations, Aug. 7.