LAS VEGAS (AP) — Early returns from Nevada's primary election Tuesday were delayed after polling places in the state's two most populous counties were kept open to allow those waiting in long lines to vote.
Voters at some Las Vegas-area polling places Tuesday were waiting in lines of three hours or more despite Nevada officials encouraging people to cast their primary election ballots by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. In the Reno area, Washoe County officials reported lines at one point were nearly three hours long.
Hundreds were still in line when polls were supposed to close at 7 p.m.
The top-ticket races that voters were settling included contests for Nevada’s four U.S. House seats, but the incumbents — three Democrats and a Republican — are expected to sail through primary challenges. The biggest question Tuesday was which candidates will try to unseat them in November.
Nevada reduced in-person voting sites for the primary because of the coronavirus and instead sent absentee ballots to voters that could be mailed back or dropped off. For those who still showed up at the limited number of polling places, they were casting ballots Tuesday on paper rather than voting machines to limit contact with shared surfaces.
Turnout by 4 p.m. was 23%, and the secretary of state’s office was predicting turnout could reach 25% — which would be the highest in a decade for a Nevada primary.
Ryan and Lana Caddel of neighboring Sparks said they went to a post office Monday to personally drop their absentee ballots in the mail.
“We’ve had our mail taken out of our mailbox before,” Lana Caddel said.
“This way, we’ve given our ballot to the federal government,” Ryan Caddel added.
He said he doesn’t always vote in primaries and might have skipped this one if not for the convenience of the mail-in ballot.
Two of the closest watched races were Republican primaries for Nevada’s 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. Both U.S. House seats are held by Democrats but could flip to Republicans in November, drawing a number of GOP contenders to the primary.
Republicans have six candidates to choose from in Nevada’s 3rd District, which encompasses southwest Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Laughlin. They include former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer and former State Treasurer Dan Schwartz.
Democratic Rep. Susie Lee was facing two challengers in the primary, but she was considered a heavy favorite.
Nevada’s 4th District, held by Democrat Steven Horsford, has drawn eight Republicans to the race, including former state lawmaker Jim Marchant and business owner and former Miss Nevada Lisa Song Sutton, who recently acknowledged she hasn’t voted in 12 years.
Horsford’s performance in the primary will be watched closely after he acknowledged having a yearslong extramarital affair, but he’s not expected to face any serious challenge.
In northern Nevada, Republican Mark Amodei is expected to easily fend off two challengers to his 2nd District seat. Though Amodei is expected to win reelection in the Republican-heavy district in November, Democrats hoping to improve their numbers are lining up to challenge him.
Seven Democrats were vying to become the nominee to take on Amodei, including retired mountaineer and actress Patricia Ackerman, former journalist Ed Cohen and former Obama administration official Clint Koble.
In Nevada’s 1st District, encompassing the casino-lined Las Vegas Strip, incumbent Democrat Dina Titus was expected to fend off two poorly funded challengers.
Four Republicans were seeking her seat, but only one has filed a campaign finance report, and it disclosed little fundraising. Whoever wins the GOP primary will face a likely insurmountable challenge against Titus in the Democrat-heavy district.
Voters also will settle intraparty contests in nearly 30 state Senate and Assembly races and narrow the field in nonpartisan races for two state Supreme Court seats, nearly two dozen family and district court judgeships, three university regent races and three Board of Education contests.
Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Sam Metz in Carson City and photographer John Locher in Las Vegas contributed to this report.