Fifth Street

November 4, 2022

What UNLV students know about the midterms (more than you may think) | Three questions for ... you! On the ballot initiatives | SON gets candid with candidates | How to democracy? April Corbin explains

DAYS AWAY FROM Nevada’s midterm general election, with the state as a battleground hotspot, candidates are racing to get voters to the polls and garner numbers from communities that could sway the outcome. One such community, young people, is known to have low turnout rates in the polls. Desert Companion’s fall interns talked to peers at UNLV to see whether they plan to vote and, if so, how. One barrier, at least in this small sample, isn’t being uninformed — it’s being uninspired. 

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Have you voted yet?

Michael Lazeroff (UNLV senior): I have not voted yet.

Trevor Glisson (UNLV, second-year graduate student): I have voted. I sent in my mail-in ballot on the 24th.

Dominic Lavoie (UNLV junior): I don’t plan on voting this midterm election, because I don’t honestly care too much about politics anymore. It started in 2020 with all the Black Lives Matter and controversy with George Floyd. I learned where I stand on it and never convinced anybody to change their mind, and I’ll never really feel like I’ll have the impact (with my) vote. So, I stopped caring because of that sole reason and because I feel like I’m just a number … This would’ve been my first time if I were to actually vote.

Do you know the process of voting in person and voting by mail?

ML: I know the process of voting by mail, but I've never voted in person. But I imagine it probably involves showing some identification and then going into the booth.

DL: I’ve actually never voted before in my life, so I don’t know any of that process. I’ve never been taught that in school.

Jackie Martin (UNLV senior): Yes. So, I’ve already received my ballot in the mail already, so I’m going to fill that up and then drop it in person.

(Editor’s note: See “Democracy How-To” below for details about the voting process.)

How are you going to vote? And, do you prefer one way over the other?

ML: Definitely by mail.

TG: I just dropped (my ballot) off at the post office. That was the easiest way … Since the pandemic, I definitely prefer mail-in voting ... They give you the resources beforehand to know what the questions are and who the candidates are ... I can do it in the privacy of my own home and do my research and vote at the same time. When I voted in person — in the 2016 (presidential) and 2018 midterm election — I believe that was before they started sending out mail-in ballots to everyone in Nevada. But, since 2020, I’ve been voting by mail.

JM: Like I said, I’ll drop my ballot in the mail. When I voted in person last time, it was messy, so I’m never going to do that again.

Where are you getting your information about candidates and ballot questions?

TG: I lean more leftist, progressive, so I tend to Google trusted sources to see who they recommend or who has their endorsement ... I’m not a member, but I enjoy what the Democratic Socialists of America say about candidates. I trust their vision on what they want to see for the future of democracy.

DL: Usually if I try to read up on candidates, it’s typically from the most bipartisan source possible. I try to go to the Associated Press or any foreign press that’s covering America. I feel like foreign sources are usually better at splitting things down in the middle when it comes to politics.

JM: I usually just Google the candidates, but I mostly go on Ballotpedia.org.

What do you think should be done to get more young voters, like you, to the polls? 

ML: That’s an interesting question, because I think a lot is being done already. However, I think overall there needs to be more education on how it affects young people and the effect that young people can have on the election.

TG: I think this brings us back to politicians. I think (right now) they’re laboriously adhering to their corporate donors ... and not necessarily talking to the younger generation, who will be their constituents in the future. I think if you want to target them, you need to be in an online space with them … You have to have a social media presence … not necessarily dodge other age groups but focus your perspective and policies on what young people want ...They’re always talked about as the missing generation. It’s because you don’t talk to them. If you talk to them, they will come out in droves.

DL:  It’s a lofty thing, but I think if we have better candidates on the ballot, it would probably get my generation more motivated to vote, because there’s a lot of issues going on that my generation feels strongly about. I think a lot of people, like myself, feel like their voice doesn’t really matter or their vote doesn’t really count because we still have people getting voted in office who are not doing what they said they were going to do (for us).


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THREE BIG QUESTIONS are on the ballot in this midterm election, dealing with equality, the minimum wage, and ranked-choice voting. If you’re confused about what each question means, then you’ve come to the right place. KNPR’s Yvette Fernandez and Desert Companion’s Lourdes Trimidal reported on both sides of the issues, so you don’t have to. Here’s a summary.

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Question 1, a.k.a. the Equality of Rights Amendment (ERA), is a measure that’s been passed through the Nevada State Legislature and is now in the hands of the people. A “yes” vote on this amendment would add language to the Nevada constitution that protects an individual’s equal rights regardless of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin. The proposal stems from the federal ERA, which passed in Congress in the 1970s and was ratified in the Nevada Legislature in 2017, though it has not yet been added to the U.S. Constitution (despite crossing the threshold of required ratifications in 2018).

“The federal ERA just says on account of sex," Vote Equality organizer Kate Kelly, who has been a strong proponent for the amendment’s adoption, tells KNPR. "The Nevada ERA prohibits discrimination on the basis of ... categories that are way bigger than just 'on account of sex.’” Kelly says 26 states already have equal rights amendments, but Nevada’s, if passed, would be the most comprehensive and inclusive in the country.

Kelly adds that the importance of having this language added to the constitution came to light most recently in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to an abortion. "The Dobbs decision,” she says, “is just a little window into why it's so important to solidify these into permanent constitutional protections.”

Conservative organizations and other opponents of the amendment say it violates their religious freedom regarding women’s safety and the protection of abortion. During debate about a related bill in the 2019 Nevada legislative session, Don Nelson, of the Pro-Life League, testified that other states have used the ERA to "overturn state laws prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion on the grounds that to not fund abortion is sex discrimination.” Nelson further stated that similar language in the Nevada ERA would protect and expand abortion rights.

Question 2 is the minimum wage amendment. As of July of this year, the minimum wage is $9.50 for employees with benefits and $10.50 for employees without benefits. A “yes” vote on this amendment would increase the minimum wage to $12 for all employees, regardless of whether they receive benefits, starting on July 1, 2024. Language in the law also prohibits the minimum wage from going below $12 allows lawmakers to raise it higher in the future.

The current wage comes from a measure passed in 2019 that allowed a series of yearly, 75-cent increases through 2024 — with the final rate at $11 for employees with benefits and $12 for employees without benefits. A “no” vote would keep this existing two-tier system, first established in 2006 when minimum wage was $5.15 and $6.15, respectively.

Christine Saunders, policy director with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), tells KNPR that many employers have found loopholes in the current minimum wage law, allowing them to offer their employees inadequate health benefits with low coverage and high costs in order to pay them the lower-tier minimum wage. “Sometimes people even opt out of them,” Saunder says. “If (employees) are sick, what they end up with is not having great health insurance and making a dollar less than everyone else. They are worse off than they would have been had they been paid that dollar more."

The amendment’s opponents argue that it would place unbearable burdens on employers. In testimony given during the 2021 Nevada legislative session, Marcos Lopez from Americans for Prosperity said the bill “would lead to decreased economic opportunity for the very people it is intended to help.” Lopez said increasing the minimum wage would force companies to cut jobs, limit jobs for low-skilled workers, and make it difficult for young workers to get into the workforce.

Question 3 is the ranked-choice voting initiative, asking whether Nevada should have open primary elections and ranked-choice voting. Opening primary elections would mean allowing all registered voters, including those who are not affiliated with the two major parties — Republican and Democrat — to vote in primaries.

So, rather than holding a primary election to nominate a single person as the party’s candidate for the general election (as is done currently), the primary election would be used to narrow down all candidates. Then, the five candidates who received the most votes would proceed to the general election. In the general election, the top five candidates would be ranked by each voter, and the highest-ranked candidate would win. 

Backers, such as the nonprofit Institute for Political Innovation, say a “yes” vote would establish a fairer system, “with more than 35 percent of Nevada voters unable to vote in a primary because they are registered as independent or non-partisan, and many more feeling under-represented by their respective party.”

Opponents say the proposed system is too complicated and confusing, leading to errors and thrown-out ballots. "The ACLU of Kentucky testified in their state legislature around ranked-choice voting," Emily Persaud-Zamora, executive director for Silver State Voices, tells KNPR. "They talked about the amount of returned ballots (during) ranked-choice voting. The communities that saw the biggest disconnect of returned ballots because of being incomplete or whatever were communities of color.”

If passed, Question 1 and 2 will become law. Question 3 will still need to go through another round in the ballot in 2024 if it passes this year. It’s all in the hands of the voters.

To listen to KNPR’s story on the ballot questions, click here.

 

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SINCE EARLY OCTOBER, KNPR’s State of Nevada — at times in collaboration with Vegas PBS — has been having conversations with candidates who are on the midterm ballot. From a heated disagreement about student loan forgiveness between two men vying for a congressional seat, to a governor answering pointed questions about how he’ll use federal funding to solve the affordable housing crisis, these interviews offer public interest watchdogs a wealth of material. Here’s a guide.

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Republican Sam Peters takes on incumbent Steven Horsford, a Democrat, in this feisty debate covering everything from abortion rights to inflation. The two, who are competing to represent Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, were the only opponents willing to face each other in a live question-and-answer forum.

Dina Titus, the Democrat representing Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, sat down for a joint SON-Vegas PBS conversation that ranged from economic development to the West’s water supply. You can watch the conversation here, and listen to it here.

Nevada Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak — who is running for re-election against Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican — tells SON, referring to criminal justice reform bills he signed into law, “There’s no proof that it’s been a problem.”

Cisco Aguilar, who’s running for Nevada Secretary of State against Jim Marchant, would have an important role to play in future elections, if he won. He tells SON, “This race is no longer about Democratic or Republican priorities. This is about Nevadans being able to have voter confidence and know that their elections are well-run and secure.”

 

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The midterm elections are officially upon us. Nevadans this year get to decide who they want to lead the state and represent their interests in Washington D.C. for years to come. While the ballot may not have a presidential race at the top of it, it will have a race some believe could decide the fate of the U.S. Senate, as well as three U.S. House races, a gubernatorial race and dozens of down-ballot races that affect local spending and your direct community. Voters this year will also be asked to weigh in on equal rights, minimum wage and reforming the current election system. Voting in Nevada is easier than in many states. Here’s what you need to know.

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Mail Ballots

All active registered voters by default were sent mail ballots. You can fill out this ballot and drop it in the mailbox. (Don’t forget to sign the envelope!) You do not need postage. Your ballot will need to be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 8 and must be received by the county by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 in order to be counted.

Ballot Dropboxes

Voters can also drop off their completed mail ballot at a physical dropbox. There will be a dropbox at every vote center.

Voting in Person

Early voting begins Saturday, Oct. 22 and runs through today (Friday, November 4).

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Anyone in line at 7 p.m. is legally allowed to cast a vote.

Voting locations for all counties can be found on the Nevada Secretary of State website here. You can visit any location in your county.

If you received a mail ballot, you will be asked to surrender it before voting. If you don’t have the mail ballot to surrender, you will be asked to sign an affirmation saying you will not vote twice in the same election.

If you are already registered to vote, you do not need a picture ID to vote in Nevada. You should only have to give your name and signature in order to vote.

What if…

I didn’t receive my mail ballot? Voters who have not received their mail ballot by Friday, Oct. 21 can request a replacement ballot from their county. Clark County’s Election Department mail ballot hotline is: (702) 455-6552.

I’m not registered to vote? Nevada allows for same-day voter registration. You will need a valid (meaning not expired) Nevada driver’s license or identification. If your ID doesn’t have your current address, you’ll also need proof of residency too. For complete details on all that: click here.

I am a new Nevada resident? New Nevada residents can walk-in to DMV offices in Carson City, Henderson, Las Vegas and Reno in order to transfer their out-of-state driver’s license or ID and register to vote in Nevada. The DMV will accept these walk-ins between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday until Election Day. For details on what new Nevada residents need, visit this DMV page.

I see something shady happen? You can fill out an Election Integrity Violation Report and send it to the Nevada Secretary of State. Details here.

More immediately: You can call the nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE

I don’t know who to vote for? The Current has a General Election Voter Guide that might help.

I’m too young to vote? Vote in the state’s student mock election!

This story was republished with permission of Nevada Current under Creative Commons license. For the original version of the story, click here.

 

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Photos: courtesy of the candidates; photo illustration: Alyssa Noji and Ryan Vellinga

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