Published Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008 | 11:29 a.m.
Updated Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 | 4:22 p.m.
Florida’s famously confusing ballots of 2000 may have some competition from the potential problems Nevada’s primary voters are facing as they use ballots listing several candidates who are no longer eligible.
But despite the possibility for confusion, voters turning out in the first days of early voting seemed to be aware of the situation and election officials said the process is proceeding smoothly, even if so far few people are showing up.
The ballots were rendered incorrect July 25, when the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that 21 state and local officials, including Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and Clark County School Board members Mary Beth Scow and Ruth Johnson, were ineligible to seek re-election because of the state’s term limits law.
Ballots for the primary election, which is Aug. 12, had already been printed to accommodate absentee voters and the 14-day early voting period that began July 26.
Clark Country Registrar Larry Lomax said some questions about the ballots have come in from poll workers at early voting sites, but the process has encountered no major problems.
“I would describe it as business as usual,” Lomax said. “It’s a very light turnout, but I wouldn’t attribute that to anything the Supreme Court did.”
Lomax said the lack of high-profile races is the most likely cause of the low turnout.
As of late afternoon on Aug. 8, 42,107 Clark County voters had cast their votes at early election sites. The most popular site has been Henderson’s Galleria at Sunset mall, which had 4,501 voters in the since early voting began July 26.
Voters at the Galleria and other polling places in the county have been greeted by a sign telling them that certain candidates have been ruled ineligible. Poll workers at the mall said voters have had no questions about the change.
Las Vegas resident Mallory Waters, who voted at the Galleria, said she was disappointed by the Supreme Court ruling and said she changed her vote as a result, but she was well aware of the change before going to vote.
“I think that if you follow the news, none of this should come as a surprise,” she said.
Voter Tom Helvin, a Las Vegas resident who also voted at Galleria, said he was also aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling and said he appreciated that it was announced before voting began.
“I think being informed early helped to make sure that I wasn’t just wasting my vote,” he said.
Helvin expressed a common sentiment among local voters, saying he was disappointed that Woodbury was removed from the ballot.
“I think he has done very well over the years and I would have liked to see him continue,” Helvin said.
Woodbury said the ruling came as little surprise.
“I’m fine with it,” he said. “I’ve been in office a good, long time and I’m very grateful to the people of this community for allowing me to serve in this position for so many years.”
Woodbury said he doesn’t have any firm plans for his future, but plans to take some time out of the public sphere to focus on his legal career, his duties as a bank board president and his family.
“I’ve got plenty to do, so I’m not going to give too much thought right now as to whether I’m going to run for anything again,” he said. “I’ll think about that in the future.”
One issue that candidates have had a hard time accepting is the timing of the ruling. The original challenge to their eligibility came on the last day of the candidate filing period, and Woodbury and Scow said that timing prevented some candidates who would have run had they known earlier from entering the race.
Scow said the experience has left her with mixed emotions — happiness at the thought of returning to regular life and spending time with her nine children and 21 grandchildren, but disappointment in the process.
“I feel like voters didn’t have the full choice that they could have had,” Scow said. “Voters have been disenfranchised and it’s very unfortunate the way it came about.”
Jeremy Twitchell can be reached at 990-8928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.