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Voter turnout for primary expected to be very low
by Nathan Orme - Tribune editor
Jun 12, 2012 | 1570 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune Graphic
Tribune Graphic
RENO — The Washoe Count registrar of voters is expecting a very low turnout for today’s primary election.

There are 218,055 registered voters in Washoe County and between 20 and 22 percent of them are expected to cast their ballot, according to Washoe County Registrar of Voters. Dan Burk. He noted that 21,322 people, or half of the expected turnout, has taken advantage of early voting.

While much of the attention will be focused on primary races for Senate and Congressional representation, the race for Reno City Council’s three open wards will be narrowed after today’s votes are tallied. The top two vote recipients in wards 1, 3 and 5 and at-large races will move on to the November general election. Nine candidates are vying to run for Ward 1, seven for Ward 3, three for Ward 5 and eight for the at-large seat.

The same three wards are up for re-election in Sparks, but the incumbents — Julia Ratti in Ward 1, Ron Smith in Ward 3 and Ron Schmitt in Ward 5 — are running unopposed. Sparks City Attorney Chet Adams, Sparks Municipal Court Judge Jim Spoo and Sparks Justice of the Peace Susan Deriso also are running unopposed.

Only Deriso will appear on today’s ballot.

For Wahoe County commission, Sparks voters will choose today between three candidates for District 4, all Republicans. Vaughn Hartung, Jesse Gutierrez and Jerry Kosak are seeking to run Nov. 4 for the seat being vacated by Bob Larkin representing Sparks and unincorporated Spanish Springs.

Hartung said he spent Monday making phone calls, expecting to talk to between 150 and 200 people before the day’s end.

“I’m still campaigning to the get the positive word out,” he said. “I am asking people to look at candidates for their genuine qualifications.”

Hartung said he has done a lot of talking to people about his experience and then listening to voters’ concerns. In Spanish Springs, for example, he said many people are concerned with sewer service, while people in the Wingfield Springs area talk a lot about rezoning land from open space to residential. If elected, Hartung said, one of his priorities will be reducing fees and other barriers to business development.

Ken Lightfoot, a Republican running for state Assembly District 30, also representing Sparks, spent his Monday before today’s primary working his job as the corporate loss prevention director for Scolari’s grocery store. He then planned to spend the evening with his family rather than do last-minute campaigning.

“I think everyone needs to vote,” Lightfoot said. “It our civic duty. I am disappointed that the registrar of voters is predicting such a low turnout.”

Lightfoot said his campaigning has consisted of one mailing and a lot of door-to-door visits. A resident of Sparks for 62 years, Lightfoot said his main issues for the campaign have been education funding and reducing taxation and regulation that stifle business development.

“Families make our communities what they are so we need to support families,” he said.

Scott Carey, a Sparks resident who is running for the state Board of Education, said he was responding to voter inquiries via Facebook and email from Washington state Monday where he was speaking about recreation assets at a western governors’ convention with Gov. Brian Sandoval. Carey works a planner for the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe.

Carey said he did a lot of campaigning for his post in rural areas such as Elko and Lovelock to get to know the concerns of residents. Those areas are feeling the impact of federally unfunded mandates for education, Carey said, while urban areas are most concerned with the impact of Nevada’s graduation rates that are last in the nation.

“A lot of folks don’t know what the Board of Education does,” Carey said. “My strategy is to talk with everybody who would talk with me.”

Voters can find their polling locations on the back of sample ballots, online at or call 328-3670 for information. There are 85 polling locations throughout Washoe County.

Voters must go to their assigned polling location and voting requires a signature match. Identification is not required to vote, but it is always wise to bring identification just in case your signature doesn’t match with your signature when you registered.

The state’s official primary election results reporting website,, launched last week and will highlight major races.
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