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Long Voting Lines and Lots of Young Voters on Election Day 2020 in Northern Nevada

Gracie Gordon, Kira Hankel and Madeleine Chinery went to several polling stations as voting was busy, socially distanced and mostly orderly.

Carly Sauvageau a graduate student at UNR who works at the Center for Basque Studies was in line this morning at Rancho San Rafael Park in northwest Reno, with many other young voters behind her. Wait times ranged from just a few minutes at local polling stations to over an hour.

Still Plenty of Voters after Record Early Voting

About 70 percent of registered voters in Washoe County voted early, according to data from the Washoe County Registrar of Voters, but that didn’t reduce high turnouts at November 3rd Voting Day polling centers across northern Nevada.

At Rancho San Rafael Park, there were observers, temperature checks and a full parking lot, with would be voters waiting in the shade of fall foliage.

“I don’t want to be one of those people who are complaining but didn’t do anything. At least if I voted I could feel confident that I helped out and contributed,” Cedric Coly, 22, a lacrosse player, UNR student and second time voter, said. He sported a bandanna type mask, while waiting giving necessary spacing to the person in front of him.

Some of the young voters we interviewed, anonymously on the left and Cedric Coly on the right.

Younger Voters Could Be Decisive if They Turn Out to Vote

“I am hoping my vote will, I guess, lessen the struggles that many of these minority groups must face. I just really don’t like [Republican President Donald] Trump,” an 18-year old first time voter said, at a supermarket polling center, not wanting to give her name, as she was indicating her voting preference for Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden.

In the 2016 elections, about 24 million young voters participated across the US, a turnout of just 50% for citizens aged 18 to 29. They supported the defeated Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton by 55% to 37% over Donald Trump, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement.

Temperature checks were part of the COVID-19 protocol for this election taking place during a still surging pandemic. Polls in Nevada were still in the margin of error range for the presidential election.

One-Man Protests and Long Lines at the Downtown Library

At the downtown Reno library, a man with a religious sign and megaphone rattling off anti-Democratic Party rhetoric was drowned out by motorists honking. Biden-Harris volunteers nearby were holding up a sign which read “Honk if you support Biden.”

“It’s important that people go out and vote for what they want,” Helen Robles, a 21-year-old University of Nevada, Reno student and a first-time voter said.

Reno resident Kanesha Dean came with her two kids to vote. “They are the future generation, and no one taught me the importance of voting, so I want to teach my children,” she said, smiling in the warm morning sun as she waited her turn to enter the library.

University of Nevada, Reno, junior Jacob Weckesser was voting for the first time, and came to the downtown library to drop off his mail-in ballot, another possibility on Voting Day. “I’m really excited to be making a difference in such a critical election,” Weckesser said.

Bruce Parks, involved in an effort to recall Nevada’s Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, is a veteran from North Carolina who currently resides in Reno, Nevada. “If you want your vote to count, you vote in-person,” he said. “I vote in-person because I want my vote to count… If you vote early, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I would encourage people to vote on Election Day. The reason I feel that way is because if you vote early and you vote a particular way, then you’re letting the opposition know where you stand. “

Some Confusion at the Registrar of Voters Office in Downtown Reno

For voting on Voting Day, in Washoe County, you couldn’t get more official than at the Registrar of Voters Office.

Roommates Ryan and Matthew Stilson and Shayla Clyde expressed their confusion around mail-in voting. “We all three did mail-in voting at the same time, but only mine had gone through. So she (Shayla Clyde) had to go in-person and he (Matthew Stilson) had to obtain a provisional ballot,” they said of making sure their votes were counted, amid all the possibilities of voting during the pandemic.

Jeremy Monson, a bartender, went to vote in-person on Election Day as he said he had the day off. “[I’m] a traditional guy and prefer to do in-person voting,” he said.

While the line did not keep the recommended six feet of social distancing between people, the voting line never got too clumped either.

Reporting by Gracie Gordon, Kira Hankel and Madeleine Chinery for the Reynolds Sandbox



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Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.