City Cast

Steve Sebelius on Why We're Not Voting Today

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on November 7
Illustration of hands filling ballot box.

No democracy in action for us this year! (smartboy10/Getty)

Your friends and relatives in many other states are going to the polls today to vote in local elections. We asked longtime political journalist Steve Sebelius why Nevdans get to stay home.

🗳️ A lot of places around the country are having elections today. Why isn't Nevada?

Many cities in Nevada formerly held their municipal elections in odd-numbered years. In 2019, however, the Nevada Legislature enacted Assembly Bill 50 with broad, bipartisan support, which consolidated municipal elections held in odd-numbered years with the even-year elections held for federal, state, and some local offices. The bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.

🗳️ What are the intended benefits of this arrangement?

The bill was intended to save money by holding municipal elections at the same time as elections for federal and state offices, and to avoid the typically low-interest affairs that municipal elections had become. (Turnout in Clark County averaged about 15 percent between 1999-2019, and never exceeded 27 percent.)  The move also helped avoid “election fatigue,” having city council elections come right on the heels of even-year general elections.

🗳️ Who are the winners and losers under the consolidated plan?

The winners include the voters, who are also taxpayers, who now only have to pay for one election every two years. Officials who were elected in 2017 and 2019 are also winners, as they got a year added to their terms during the consolidation. Losers include local candidates, who must now compete with federal and state candidates for campaign donations, television ad time, and voters’ attention while waging their campaigns amidst elections for other, more high-profile offices.

Hey Las Vegas

Want to know what's happening in Las Vegas? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Las Vegas. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.