Nevada primary turnout: Driven by mail, primary vote totals surpass caucus records
THURSDAY AT 12:20 PM
The Democratic presidential primary saw record high turnout, with more than 133,000 votes cast, according to data from the secretary of state’s office updated Thursday morning. The previous record high turnout for a Democratic presidential nominating contest was 118,000, set in the 2008 caucus when Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Barack Obama before he would go on to win the nomination and the presidency.
Turnout in the Republican primary, more than 79,000 as of Thursday morning, also surpassed the previous record-high GOP caucus turnout of 75,000 set in 2016. It is far off from the GOP presidential primary record, however. In 1996, under a law that allowed for a primary in place of a caucus, Nevada Republicans participated in an all-mail presidential primary that saw more than 140,000 votes cast, more than half for Bob Dole.
Though this year’s contest lacked the same level of competitiveness as some past caucuses, expanded methods of voting this cycle helped drive record turnout. That included universal mail voting — more than 1.1 million ballots were mailed to Democratic and Republican voters in the state.
Though the vast majority of those ballots were not cast, mail ballots were the main driver behind record turnout, making up 80 percent of turnout in the Democratic primary and 75 percent of turnout in the Republican primary.
This year’s primary also included a week of early voting, which was only previously used in the 2020 Democratic caucus.
WEDNESDAY AT 12:03 PM
Turnout in the Democratic and Republican primaries is approaching, but may not surpass, the record highs for past party caucuses.
Turnout in the Democratic primary has surpassed 111,000 votes, according to data from the secretary of state’s office last updated Wednesday morning. That includes about 84,000 ballots cast by mail (76 percent), more than 14,000 in-person early votes (13 percent) and nearly 13,000 votes cast in person on Election Day (11 percent).
With additional mail ballots from populous Clark County not yet reported in the latest turnout data, that number is set to rise even higher, though it may not be enough to reach the 2008 record for turnout in a Democratic caucus of 118,000.
In the Republican primary, reported turnout has reached nearly 72,000 — almost at the GOP caucus record of 75,000 set in 2016, with additional mail ballots left still trickling in.
The turnout in the GOP primary includes 52,000 mail ballots accepted for counting (72 percent), more than 9,000 early votes (13 percent) and more than 10,000 votes in person on Election Day (15 percent).
Those totals do not include more than 1,500 mail ballots across both primaries returned but rejected for various reasons, such as a missing envelope or stray identifying marks. It also does not include the nearly 2,600 ballots needing a signature cure by the Monday, Feb. 12 deadline.
It also does not include mail ballots that have not been received by election officials yet but that can still be counted. Mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day can be counted if they are received by 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.
TUESDAY AT 3:49 PM
Nearly 12,000 Nevada voters have cast their ballots in person on Election Day as of 2 p.m., according to turnout data released by the secretary of state’s office.
That includes more than 6,100 Democratic voters and about 5,700 Republican voters.
Though the two primaries have seen similar levels of in-person turnout on Election Day, the cumulative number of ballots cast in the Democratic primary is far ahead of the Republican primary, with significantly more Democratic voters casting votes via mail and early voting.
According to the latest available data from the secretary of state’s office, which was last updated Monday morning for mail ballot returns, about 100,000 votes have been cast in the Democratic primary, and about 64,000 in the Republican primary.
Turnout in the Democratic primary is approaching the record of 118,000 set in the 2008 caucus, while in the Republican primary, turnout is approaching the GOP caucus record of 75,000 set in 2016.
TUESDAY AT 12:58 PM
As of 10 a.m. — three hours after the polls opened on Election Day — more than 2,000 voters had cast their ballots in person in the Democratic presidential primary and 1,800 in the Republican primary, according to data from the secretary of state’s office published after noon on Tuesday.
Combined with previously reported mail and early vote turnout data, about 96,000 votes have been cast in the Democratic primary and 60,000 in the Republican primary.
Those numbers will continue to rise as Election Day voting proceeds across the state, with polls open until 7 p.m. and more mail ballots likely to arrive in the coming days. Mail ballots can be accepted and counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Saturday.
In Clark County, where turnout numbers are updated in real time, nearly 5,900 people have voted in person on Election Day as of 12:30 p.m., though those numbers are not broken down by party.
In Washoe County, nearly 1,000 voters have cast ballots in person, according to county data updated as of noon on Tuesday. That includes 531 Democratic and 462 Republican voters.
The in-person voting numbers thus far pale in comparison to other recent elections, such as the 2022 June primary election, which saw more than 101,000 voters turn out in person, and the 2020 November general election, which saw Election Day turnout top 158,000. Those elections featured significantly more races, however; the presidential primaries Tuesday have been predominantly characterized by a lack of competition between candidates on the ballot.
SATURDAY AT 2:30 PM
After a week of early voting in Nevada’s presidential primaries ended Friday, nearly 94,000 voters have cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, compared with about 58,000 in the Republican primary, according to data from the secretary of state’s office updated Saturday morning.
Those turnout numbers have been driven primarily by mail ballots, with about 84 percent of the ballots cast and accepted for counting in each primary coming via mail.
Friday saw the highest in-person turnout of any day of the early voting period, which began Saturday, Jan. 27. Nearly 2,900 Democratic voters and more than 1,800 Republican voters cast their ballots in person Friday, the last day to do so before Election Day on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Across the full week of early voting, more than 14,000 voters cast ballots in person in the Democratic primary, with about 78 percent of those votes cast in urban Clark County. Out of more than 9,000 ballots cast in the Republican primary during early voting, less than 62 percent came from Clark County.
FRIDAY AT 11:17 AM
Even ahead of the final day of early voting on Friday, reported turnout in Nevada’s Democratic presidential primary has surpassed that of the 2016 Democratic caucus, reaching nearly 85,000 across mail ballots accepted for counting (87 percent of the vote) and in-person early voting (13 percent) as of Friday morning.
The two contests are significantly different. Although the 2016 caucus, which saw 84,000 voters participate, was a competitive battle between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), this year’s primary has seen President Joe Biden face only long-shot challengers, such as self-help author Marianne Williamson.
The state-run primary, a first in decades, also provides voters with the ability to vote early or by mail — a change that has boosted turnout compared with past contests that typically draw only the most motivated partisans, even with less competition in this year’s contest.
In the Republican primary, the absence of former President Donald Trump on the ballot has dampened turnout in comparison with the Democratic primary. About 53,000 Republican voters have cast ballots in the GOP primary, including nearly 87 percent by mail.
Still, the expanded forms of voting have similarly boosted turnout compared with past GOP caucuses. Republican primary turnout has already surpassed the 2012 caucus (33,000) and 2008 caucus (44,000).
THURSDAY AT 10:56 AM
Through five days of early voting, Democratic turnout is steadily approaching turnout numbers reached in the past two Democratic presidential caucuses (105,000 in 2020 and 84,000 in 2016). Driven largely by mail ballots (87 percent of the vote) — which are being used for the first time in a Democratic presidential nominating contest in Nevada — nearly 75,000 ballots have been cast in the state’s Democratic primary.
Thursday and Friday mark the final two days of early voting, while voters have until the close of polls on Election Day, Tuesday, Feb. 6, to submit their mail ballots.
In the Republican primary, more than 48,000 voters have cast their ballots, with the vast majority, 87 percent, being mail ballots.
During early voting Wednesday, more than 1,200 Republican voters and more than 1,900 Democratic voters cast ballots in person.
WEDNESDAY AT 10:58 AM
The latest returns from early and mail voting show that Democratic voters continue to turn out at a higher rate than Republican voters, who still are more than a week away from being able to cast their ballots for former President Donald Trump or Texas pastor and businessman Ryan Binkley in the party-run GOP caucus.
Through Tuesday, nearly 68,000 Democratic voters have cast ballots that have been accepted for counting, according to turnout data from the secretary of state’s office updated Wednesday morning. About 60,000 of those ballots, or 89 percent, have come via mail, with only 1,900 Democrats voting in person on average each day during early voting.
Fewer than 45,000 Republican voters have cast a ballot in the GOP primary, with rural voters turning out in higher numbers than urban voters. Though Republicans outside of urban Clark and Washoe counties make up just 19 percent of registered Republicans, they have accounted for more than 27 percent of the votes cast in the GOP primary.
Similarly to Democratic turnout, about 89 percent of votes cast in the Republican primary have come via mail ballot.
TUESDAY AT 11:40 AM
More than 3,600 Nevadans turned out to vote early on Monday, a majority of whom were Democrats who continue to turn out in greater numbers than Republicans through mail and early voting.
So far, nearly 60,000 Democratic voters have cast their ballots — about 90 percent of them by mail — according to the latest data available Tuesday morning from the secretary of state’s office.
Nearly 41,000 Republican voters have cast their ballot in a primary that does not include their party’s presumptive nominee, as former President Donald Trump is only running in the Feb. 8 GOP caucus.
That amount does not include about 1,600 ballots from Republican voters — and more than 2,000 ballots from Democratic voters — that have been rejected for various reasons, such as stray identifying marks or a wrong envelope, or are still in need of signature curing.
Clark County Republicans also continue to lag in turnout. Though 62 percent of registered Republican voters in Nevada are based in Clark County, they have accounted for less than 45 percent of ballots cast so far in the Republican primary.
MONDAY AT 4:40 PM
After two days of early voting, more than 54,000 Democrats and nearly 38,000 Republicans have cast their ballots in the state’s presidential primaries, according to data from the secretary of state’s office last updated Monday morning.
While the party-run Republican caucus is still a week and a half away, nearly all voters registered with either major party have been mailed a ballot for the primaries, and most of the votes cast so far have come via mail ballots.
Fewer than 4,000 Democrats and about 1,500 Republicans voted in-person this past weekend, with the vast majority of them in populous Clark County.
Turnout still remains low. The returned mail ballots accepted for counting represent only about 7.5 percent of the 1.15 million ballots mailed to major party voters.
Here are some other takeaways on turnout through Sunday:
- Mail returns are slower in Clark County.
Voters in the state’s most populous county, home to Las Vegas and Henderson, typically make up upwards of two-thirds of the electorate in each Nevada election. But so far, only about half of ballots cast have come from Clark County. Just under a third have come from Washoe County, with the rest from rural counties.
- Comparisons to past elections will be hard.
Primaries are run differently from caucuses. In these elections, voters can use mail ballots, unlike past caucuses or the GOP caucus being held this year on Feb. 8. Democrats only first used early voting in a caucus in 2020. So bear that in mind when seeing any turnout comparisons to caucuses of years past. But with that, here are turnout numbers from recent caucuses.
Unlike some recent past contests, including the 2020 Democratic caucus and 2016 Republican primary, this year’s presidential primaries feature less competition.
In the Democratic primary, President Joe Biden faces self help author Marianne Williamson and several longshot candidates.
In the Republican primary, Nikki Haley is the lone major candidate remaining on the ballot because former President Donald Trump is participating in the Feb. 8 caucus run by the Nevada GOP. Only the caucus will be used to award delegates.
Reminder for anyone who received a mail ballot: Nevadans can track the status of their ballot here.