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December 10, 2018

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Voting in the elections? Here’s what to expect at polling locations

Election Day Voting

Shelby Lum/Richmond Times-Dispatch / AP

Voters line up in voting booths to cast their ballots at Robious Elementary School in Chesterfield, Va. on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016.

As many as 500,000 Clark County residents will take to the voting booths for this month’s primary elections and the general midterm elections in November. With 172 polling locations, Clark County is by far Nevada’s largest polling site, followed by Washoe County. Several rules apply for candidates, staffers and poll volunteers to ensure that all voters have a fair and unbiased experience and Nevada polling places don’t turn into campaign rallies. Here’s what voters can expect June 12 and Nov. 6:

1. A campaign-free voting environment, at least within 100 feet of the ballot box

Electioneering, by federal law, is not allowed within that space, which means a candidate, staffer or member of the public cannot legally attempt to influence a would-be voter. Owners of voting locations on private property, like Meadows mall, can also choose not to allow any electioneering at all on their properties.

Distance markers surrounding the voting booths at most locations will signal to voters and campaign influencers the location of the 100-foot boundary. Polling place volunteers are also prohibited from electioneering, which includes wearing any kind of attire in support of a political party or candidate. That means no “Make American Great Again” hats or buttons with donkeys on them. Those in violation of electioneering laws at the ballot box are subject to arrest and gross misdemeanor charges carrying up to $2,000 in fines and one year in prison.

“We wouldn’t allow somebody who’s wearing a campaign T-shirt to work at the polling place,” says Jennifer Russell, spokeswoman for the Nevada secretary of state. “Every polling place has supervisors to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

2. An abundance of local voting locations with several booths

Most polling places in the Las Vegas Valley are located within three miles of any county resident, according to the Clark County Election Department, and have anywhere from 20 to 40 individual booths for people to vote.

Residents of the county can cast their vote at any of the 172 Clark County centers.

Bunkerville, Indian Springs, Laughlin, Mesquite, Moapa, Moapa Valley, Sandy Valley and Searchlight will also have a voting center on Election Day. County residents can also search for the closest voting poll to their homes at clarkcountynv.gov/vote.

Voters need only to provide their signature. A state-issued ID is not required, but recommended, says Joe Gloria, registrar of voting. Voters aren’t allowed to wear buttons and hats endorsing candidates, as such paraphernalia is seen as electioneering. Gloria said voting poll staffers will ask voters wearing certain propaganda to remove it, but that they’ll “never ask anyone to take their shirt or pants off.”

Weapons, like firearms, are permitted where not banned by law, but several voting polls are located inside schools where federal law prohibits guns.

3. An instantaneous recording of a person’s vote — both digitally and on paper

All results are recorded immediately on the voting machine and backed up with a printed piece of paper, county spokesman Dan Kulin said. The materials and records of votes cast are all transported to the Clark County Election Department’s downtown office and added up at the end of the day. The “standalone” voting booths in Clark County are not connected to the internet, Kulin said.

Early and absentee voting

How voters cast their ballots in 2014

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said that since 2000, more county residents have chosen to vote before Election Day than on the day itself, in part to avoid long lines.

• Midterm primaries: 51% early voters; 37% Election Day voters; 12% absentee

• General election: 50% early voters; 44% Election Day voters; 6% absentee

Nevadans wishing to stay at home or who are traveling out of town during this year’s elections can still place their votes via early and absentee voting. Early voting, which briefly opens some polling sites during the weeks before Election Day, will take place until June 8 for the Republican and Democratic primaries, and October 20 through November 2 for the general election at nearly all of the same polling locations open on Election Day.

• Absentee voting allows Nevada voters to cast their votes via mail. About 12 percent of the county’s almost 123,000 voters in the 2014 primary midterm elections, and 6 percent of its roughly 341,000 voters in the 2014 general election, voted via absentee ballot.

• Ballots can be requested from the Clark County Registrar of Voters, PO Box 3909, Las Vegas NV 89127, or at 702-455-8683 (VOTE), and must be received by the county’s registrar’s office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Languages and ballots

Our languages

Percentage and population of particular languages spoken within the Las Vegas metropolitan area, other than English:

• 23% Spanish: 400,000-600,000 people

• 3.5% Tagalog: 60,000-74,000 people

• 1.2% Mandarin Chinese: 24,000-29,000 people

Besides English, all ballots in Clark County are also offered in Spanish (since July 2002) and Tagalog (since October 2011). Federal law requires ballots to be printed in any language spoken at home by at least 5 percent of a county’s residents or more than 10,000 people of voting age. Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said despite the growing number of native Mandarin Chinese speakers — which U.S. Census Bureau and online estimates put between 24,000 to 29,000 total residents in the Valley — county officials have not received any new mandates to add that language to the ballot. All counties in Nevada offer ballots in both English and Spanish, but Kulin said only Clark County also includes ballots in Tagalog. An additional mandate for Mandarin in Clark County may come as soon as the 2020 Census statistics are released, he said.