Clark County locals will soon get to vote and choose their next district attorney. But about 60 percent of the 994,000 registered voters will be left out — excluded from casting a ballot for district attorney because they’re not Democrats.
That’s because of a 2015 law passed by Senator James Settelmeyer — Republican politician of the Nevada Senate — which moved candidates from the general election to the primary should the race includes only contenders from a single political party.
That makes the primary winner the elected district attorney based solely on the votes from that political party. Voters from other parties will have nothing to do in the race because the name of the primary winner only appears on the general election ballot.
The district attorney election will be between incumbent Democrat Steve Wolfson and challenger Robert Langford is the only county-wide race that will be determined on June 12. The State of Nevada Senate District 10 and Assembly District 42 also will be chosen in the primary election because there are only Democratic candidates on the ballot. Another 30 posts throughout Clark County will appear on the November ballot but are effectively determined because there is only sole candidate.
“The political parties’ argument is a private-party function and people who are not registered with the party aren’t eligible to vote,” said Sondra Cosgrove, a history professor at College of Southern Nevada and president of the League of Women Voters Nevada.
Some of the voters found a workaround. They may change their political party affiliation to vote in the primary election of their selection, and switch back before the next election starts.
Tom Letizia, Wolfson’s campaign manager, said that his camp is also focused on door-to-door canvassing. And although more Republicans primarily vote in the primary elections, Letizia thinks Democratic attendance will be strong because of elections such as the governor’s competition.
This is State of Nevada’s second election round under the current political system.
Settelmeyer said that his intention was to make voting in Nevada more inclusive, but the law was revised and brought about the change. Settelmeyer added that he will propose an amendment to the law next year.
Electoral officials claims they receive an earful of protests regarding the new regulations a couple of years ago.
“We heard a fair amount of griping from the rural counties in 2016 about the law change because it meant only Republicans could vote in certain races,” said Wayne Thorley, deputy Secretary of State for elections.
Another Settelmeyer bill he authored from 2015 could also take part a major factor in this year’s piomary elections. That bill passed into law made it so candidates win neutral races should they receive more than 50 percent of the primary votes.
Primary races in Clark County will serve as the only election for three positions because only Democrats are running in each race.
- Clark County District Attorney (Robert Langford, Steve Wolfson)
- Senate District 10 (Yvanna Cancela, Bryce Henderson)
- Assembly District 42 (Alexander Assefa, LaDon Henry, Kathleen Lauckner)