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John L. Smith On Changing The State's Election Schedule

New leaders in Carson City mean new ideas are starting to percolate. But some are old ideas, and its veteran politicians, not newbies, leading the way. 

One of those ideas is to schedule municipal, state and federal elections on the same day. 

Sounds simple, enough. So why hasn’t it been done before? 

John L. Smith has been looking into that. He’s a longtime Nevada reporter and a regular contributor to State of Nevada.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is looking to introduce a bill that would have all municipal elections moved to even number years. Many jurisdictions currently do have elections that line up with Mid-Terms and Presidential elections, Smith explained but not Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson, which are three of the biggest cities in the state.

“If you care about voter turnout and you care about registered voters going to the polls, and I think a lot of people, do then having those municipal elections on even-numbered years when there are more choices on the ballot that tends to drive that voter turnout,” he said.

However, those against the idea are usually incumbents because it makes the election shorter for them and political contributors usually have fewer people clamoring for a check. 

Smith said the people he has talked to at the city of Las Vegas like the idea.

“A lot of folks at the city like the idea of it," he said, "They think it will make things smoother. It will definitely improve turnout and that voter participation is really important especially for things that may be more costly in the future like tax increases and things like that.”

As for himself, Smith likes the idea and believes it will improve voter turnout and participation is always a good thing.

“Because frankly, if you’ve ever gone to the polling places in the city in those off-year races you could fire a cannon through there and not hit anyone,” he said.


The Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns the minor league baseball team, announced this weekend that they're changing the name of the team from the 51s to the Aviators.

“On its face, I like the Aviators as a team name. It’s a good name. I’m so sold so much on the logo. It looks a little bit like a bobblehead from outer space. But at least it's colorful”

Smith believes the Hughes Corporation is trying to keep itself linked to the record-breaking and celebrity of the sky status of Howard Hughes instead of "shaggy-haired, long finger nailed weirdo who owned casinos in Las Vegas."

But he also believes the company needs to be careful because besides being an aviator, film director, casino owner, and huge landowner - he was a racist.

“There is an argument to be made that they need to focus that they need to be really sensitive that some people once they dig into the Hughes' background they’re going to find that he was a lot more Jim Crow oriented than was modern and civil rights oriented,” he said.


John L. Smith, contributor

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.