Election Day is at Hand: Make Your Voice Heard

Kevin Dietrich

Today’s election is not the most important in history. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry great significance.

Nevada residents will cast ballots for governor, Congress, state legislature and several other offices. Also on the table are three ballot initiatives, one of which would dramatically alter how Nevadans choose their leaders.

Each and every vote matters, if for no other reason than high turnout catches the attention of elected officials. Once they realize voters care enough to cast ballots in large numbers, the more likely they are to recognize that constituents are watching their actions.

There are nearly 1.9 million registered voters in Nevada, but that doesn’t mean your ballot doesn’t matter. During its 158 years as a state Nevada has experienced some very close races:

  • In the 1898 governor’s race Reinhold Sadler of the Silver Party defeated Republican William McMillan by fewer than two dozen votes;
  • Republican E.E. Roberts beat Democrat Clay Tallman by 69 votes in the 1912 race for the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • In the 1914 race for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat, Democrat Francis Newlands defeated Republican Samuel Platt by 40 votes;
  • Democrat Harry Reid topped Republican John Ensign by 428 votes, out of more than 415,000 ballots cast, to win re-election to the U.S. Senate in 1998; and
  • In the 1964 U.S. Senate race, Democrat H.W. Canon defeated Republican Paul Laxalt by 84 votes, a difference of less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the more than 134,000 ballots cast.

Nevada’s gubernatorial and Congressional elections have drawn close scrutiny nationally because they are tightly contested. But also important are the three initiatives on the ballot.

Question 1, which seeks to amend the state constitution by adding a specific guarantee that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin, is a feel-good initiative.

For the most part, the above are already guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The troubling words in Question 1 are gender identity or expression, which, largely, are a recent phenomenon. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court held in 2020 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In other words, these rights already exist.

Question 2 seeks to raise Nevada’s minimum wage to $12 an hour. The legislature has already passed minimum wage increases that will bring the rate to $12 by 2024 for employees who do not receive benefits, while those who do can be paid $11 an hour.

This would be bad policy for several reasons, including the fact that minimum wage laws decrease employment opportunities for those starting out and those looking to climb out of poverty. Besides, it won’t be long before another initiative is floated to further boost the minimum wage. Fluid issues shouldn’t be ingrained in the state constitution.

Question 3 would have all Nevada voters participate in open primary elections and introduce ranked-choice voting for candidates running for statewide office and the U.S. House and Senate.

Ranked-choice voting has led to confusion, mistakes and a lack of accountability in areas where it’s been implemented. Allowing Nevadans to pick the one candidate that they believe will do the best job is a much simpler and straightforward process. There’s no need to change it.

The bottom line: understand where candidates stand on the issues and what’s at stake with the ballot initiatives. A well-informed populace is crucial to successful democracy and your family’s well-being.

Kevin Dietrich

Kevin Dietrich

Kevin Dietrich joined Nevada Policy in 2022.

He has more than 20 years of experience in communications, including serving as the director of communications and marketing for the South Carolina Bankers Association, working as a speechwriter for South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and assisting with internal communications for CVS Caremark.

Kevin graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Journalism and a minor in History. A fifth-generation Californian, he spent a decade as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, New York, New Hampshire and South Carolina.