Voters can cast their September primary ballots early

Voters in Carson City and Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties can avoid election day lines and hubbub by casting their September primary ballots early during the next two weeks.

Election officials say early voting allows people to fit electoral participation into their schedules and gives them a calmer environment in which to choose candidates.

"I like the early voting program very much," said Nikki Bryan, Lyon County Clerk-Treasurer. "You go to the poll when you want to. You can plan and do it on your own time."

Barbara Reed, Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer, concurred, adding that she "sees a lot of voter participation on Saturdays. Many voters don't feel as rushed as on election day."

Reed believes early voting "has been very well-received. The voters seem to really like it and seem to have been using it. It's been very successful."

Reed's assessment holds true for other jurisdictions.

Sue Merriwether, a deputy with the Carson City Clerk-Recorder's Office, said, "The percentage of early voters goes up every year."

Sarah Jensen, Merriwether's counterpart in Storey County, noted that "in the last election, there was a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in early voting over the previous election."

Bryan has seen this increase in Lyon County, with "early voting getting more and more popular all the time."

Merriwether said she expects at least 400 people a day to submit early ballots in Carson City. Bryan said about 70 to 90 a day will do the same in Lyon County. In Douglas County, Reed estimates about 1,500 voters will choose candidates over the next two weeks, while Jensen estimates about 50 people will participate in early voting in Storey County.

But even as voters increasingly opt to cast their ballots before the primary, there will always be those who enjoy the tradition of entering the polling booth on election day.

And for now, officials say, traditional voters outnumber early voters, although Reed foresees this imbalance being equalized once early voting via the Internet begins. Reed said Douglas County could offer Internet voting as early as the 2004 election cycle.

But whether done electronically or manually, early voting is "just wonderful for all of us," Reed summarized, and Raymond Dillon of Carson City agrees.

"Early voting is excellent, convenient, " he said. "You can take your time. You're more relaxed. I have to take advantage of early voting because I'll be out of town (on election day)."

Jean Amos, also of Carson City, won't be away, but she, like Dillon, enjoys early voting's slower pace.

"I have voted early for the last five or six years. There's no crowds. Voting on election day, it was nice to see people from around the area, but it did take a lot of time. The older I get, the less time I want to take standing in line."


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