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Election chief expects 25 percent turnout in Clark County

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Steve Marcus

Former Chancellor Jim Rogers votes at Wasden Elementary School Tuesday, June 8, 2010.

Updated Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 7:29 p.m.

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Clark County's election chief said this afternoon he expects about 75,000 voters to cast a ballot in Clark County today, which would translate into a turnout of about 25 percent for the primary election.

Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said 44,731 voters had cast a ballot in Clark County through 3 p.m. That likely will mean about 75,000 votes today, Lomax predicted, on top of about 100,000 early and absentee ballots that were cast.

He said this afternoon that no major problems had been reported at the polls, but he has heard one complaint.

"If there's one common thread in this election, we've had an awful lot of (voters) registered not as a Republican or Democrat, and they want to vote in the Republican primary and they can't," he said. "They get really upset about that."

Nevada is a closed-primary state, meaning voters registered as a Republican or Democrat can only vote for candidates in that party, as well as in nonpartisan races. Voters registered with a minor party or as a nonpartisan can't vote for Republican or Democratic candidates in the primary.

One problem occurred at a polling place in Summerlin, where John Bonner Elementary lost power during afternoon voting. A generator was being brought in.

Other problems included two fire alarms at Elaine Wynn Elementary and a fight at the Dula Recreation Center in a gymnasium away from the polling area. One person was arrested and another was hospitalized.

Russ Ketchum, 48, a vice president of technology for an airline and Republican, cast his ballot at Twitchell Elementary School in Henderson. He said he was motivated to turn out by the U.S. Senate race, which will pit the Republican nominee against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Ketchum said he cast his ballot for Sharron Angle.

"I was focused on the Senate race," he said. "I’m one of those people who calls Reid’s offices to ask questions and express my opinion. I called the candidates months ago when the health care debate was under way. I decided on Angle two or three months ago.

The county's 289 polling places closed at 7 p.m.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said today that turnout was slow but steady in most Nevada counties, with heavier turnout in rural areas. Carson City was expecting a turnout rate near 60 percent, Miller said.

Miller said he expected turnout among Democrats to be between 18 and 23 percent, with Republicans at 35 to 40 percent. He said 137,933 early and absentee ballots were cast statewide in advance of today's election.

In Clark County, Lomax said voter numbers were mostly steady throughout the day, with few people having to wait in line.

"I kind of have a mixed bag," Lomax said shortly after 9 a.m. "I'm currently at Desert Vista in Sun City (in Summerlin) and just left Mountain Shadows in Sun City, and they're really busy, but all of the other polling places I went to, it was very slow."

Lomax said Sun City generally reports an above-average turnout compared to the rest of the county.

Click to enlarge photo

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian arrives to cast his ballot at Wasden Elementary School Tuesday, June 8, 2010.

"The other places I went to, they all had eight or 10 right off the bat at 7 o'clock," he said. "Other than that they've just kind of been dribbling in."

Some candidates dropped by polling places in Southern Nevada this morning to cast a ballot. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian voted at Wasden Elementary School, while Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid voted at about 10 a.m. Rep. Shelley Berkley also votede this morning.

Tarkanian challenger Sue Lowden had cast an advance ballot; Sharron Angle voted in Reno.

Sun editor Patrick McDonnell contributed to this report.

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