Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2018

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Heavy voter turnout seen among young people, Hispanics

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Wade Vandervort

People stand in line to vote at Kenny Guinn Middle School, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Young people and Hispanic voters cast more ballots in Tuesday’s election than in the last midterm, according to early analyses.

Young voters and Latinos in particular helped Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen oust incumbent GOP Sen. Sen Heller, according to the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School.

Estimated turnout nationally among eligible voters ages 18 to 29 — 31 percent — was the highest of the past seven midterms, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Older age groups tend to have much higher turnout rates. Nevada turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds was estimated at 19 percent this midterm, according to the institute. The Center pegs Nevada’s 2014 turnout for the same age group at 8.3 percent.

“Youth turnout was higher this year than any midterm in a quarter century,” said Kate Frauenfelder of progressive group NextGen. “This is what happens when you invest in young people, take them seriously and engage with them on the issues they care about.”

Nationally in 2014, more than 55 percent of people ages 65 and older voted, compared to 39 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15.9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds, the lowest turnout of age group, according to census data.

UNLV precinct turnout was 120 percent over 2014, and UNR precinct turnout was up more than 300 percent compared to 2014 totals, according to NextGen. The group, funded by a $2 million investment by Democratic donor Tom Steyer, worked to register and turn out voters 18 to 35 years old.

Nevada early voting turnout was up from 2014 by 364 percent among 18- to 29-year-old voters, 327 percent among African-American voters, 157 percent among Hispanic voters and 133 percent among Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters.

There was a nationwide uptick in enthusiasm for Tuesday’s election, with 38 million people voting early either in person or by mail, compared to 27 million in 2014, according to pollster JMC Analytics.

Clark County saw record-breaking turnout at the start of early voting, and overall turnout trounced the last midterm, with more than 59 percent of registered voters casting ballots this year compared to about 41 percent in 2014.

“Our state saw record-breaking turnout for a midterm election, and it’s clear Nevadans were motivated to make their voices count this year,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II said in a statement.

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, the Senate’s first Latina, said Tuesday night that Hispanic voters were motivated by the immigration issues at stake under President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration has targeted several immigration programs for reduction or elimination, from temporary protected status for immigrants from certain countries to deportation protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Trump administration also pushed a short-lived policy that separated immigrant children, some of them toddlers, from their families as they attempted to cross the southern border. Officials are still working to detain families during immigration proceedings.

“I see nothing but an anti-immigrant agenda from this administration and, unfortunately, from the Republican leadership,” Cortez Masto said. “That’s why I think people are really paying attention in our Latino community, and they’re focused, and they’re looking for people that are going to fight.”

Cortez Masto said the local Culinary Workers Union and other grassroots groups have worked to mobilize the Latino community in Nevada and are seeing results.

“I’ve seen consistently over the years, each election cycle, more and more Latinos come out to vote,” Cortez Masto said.

The state hit a record in active voter registrations in September, shortly before registrations closed to vote in the general election. The secretary of state reported that the 1,519,038 active registered voters in September 2018 was the highest ever in Nevada.

Democrats had a lead over Republicans in voter registrations statewide of more than 100,000 heading into the election. Republicans tend to have higher turnout in midterm elections, and the Republican National Committee was on the ground working with the Nevada GOP to register and turn out their voters.

Cortez Masto said retired Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid built a political machine in Nevada that included reaching out to the Latino community early and often.

“It’s just having those conversations and getting out and voting,” Cortez Masto said. “You can’t come in in an election and try to engage the Latino community a month out.”