FlashVote terminates contract with IVGID over allegations of public deception | TahoeDailyTribune.com

FlashVote terminates contract with IVGID over allegations of public deception

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — At the Dec. 14 IVGID Board of Trustees meeting, district legal counsel Jason Guinasso announced that effective Dec. 1, the third-party citizen governance system FlashVote terminated its contract with the district. On Dec. 27, IVGID received a check for $2,041.67 from FlashVote — the remainder of the $4,900 pro-rated fee the district paid for the service as part of a one-year contract — ensuring IVGID will no longer use the service as a digital survey tool to gain feedback from residents. It marks the end of a rocky relationship between both parties, one that in recent months was clouded with differing views on who owns resident data compiled over the years through the public-private partnership, as well as differing views on if IVGID was trying to break Nevada law by allegedly manipulating verbiage of questions. FLASHVOTE BACKGROUND IVGID signed a one-year contract with FlashVote — owned by Incline resident Kevin Lyons — on May 2016, following two-plus years of beta testing with the service. During the trial period, IVGID was able to push out surveys for free, and in turn the district helped promote FlashVote to Incline/Crystal Bay residents through a mailing, email newsletters and other communications in order to solicit people to sign up for the service. With that, FlashVote also received an email list of residents to help Lyons promote the service, according to the district, and that email list was maintained through the paid period of community surveys. In a follow-up email to the Bonanza, Lyons stated that FlashVote — which now operates under the company Governance Sciences Group, Inc. — started collaborating with IVGID on an informal pilot basis in late 2013, and eventually grew its user base to over 400 residents. He said he started working with IVGID after observing the district operate and concluding that, "the management and board at the time were making some common but preventable mistakes based on lack of good input and oversight from the public." When asked who owns the citizen information in FlashVote's IVGID community, Lyons said his company does, because when users signed up through the FlashVote website, they directly agreed to its terms of use (regardless of who the private company contracts with). However, Guinasso said the original email list provided to Lyons during the beta period years ago served as the foundation for FlashVote, and thus the development of the company's database — therefore, that email list is owned by IVGID. "The contract clearly delineates who owns what," said Guinasso. According to the contract, "customer data" is defined as "non-public data provided by (IVGID) to (Flashvote) to enable the provision of the Services … such as non-public citizen email addresses or other non-pubic citizen data." Under that clause, Lyons stated in an email to the Bonanza that, "IVGID has not provided us any customer data and they know that." Guinasso, meanwhile, said that if FlashVote sends surveys moving forward to the user database that IVGID helped build, that puts IVGID in a position to take legal action since it has an obligation to protect its residents' data. "Our big concern is solely on the data solicited and developed from our citizen database," Guinasso said. "We want to make sure it isn't misused or used at all without the consent of the people who signed up. If (Lyons is) using it for his own benefit, then that's harming the public and we have an obligation to protect that information. "The data was collected for a single purpose — to survey the community on behalf of the public." According to previous reports, Lyons has indicated that security issues are not a concern. "Privacy and security are central to the service," Lyons said in a June 2015 Bonanza story. "Anonymity is key to receiving that honest feedback without repercussions." Why FlashVote Ended the Contract with IVGID Lyons stated that a key aspect of getting citizens to join FlashVote and participate in surveys is because the company is an independent third party — and thus, not a government — that is trusted by users to maintain the quality and anonymity of the surveys. FlashVote customers always pick their topics and questions, Lyons said, but FlashVote makes sure all questions go through an extensive, 23-point quality control process before they go out to citizens. "FlashVote made the decision to terminate IVGID as a customer after a second incident where IVGID management demanded that these quality control standards be ignored," Lyons stated in an email to the Bonanza. "The first time this happened, FlashVote maintained its integrity by rejecting the survey and moving forward. The second time, FlashVote believed it was being asked to ignore not just the quality standards but also Nevada state law (NRS 197.130) against making false and misleading statements to the public." As part of research for this story, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza obtained copies of extensive email strings between Lyons and IVGID Communication Coordinator Misty Moga, other IVGID staff and Guinasso, specific to the "second time" Lyons referenced in his statement. That string in late November details how both sides disagreed about the wording of a potential FlashVote question regarding updates to the district's trash law, Ordinance 1. According to the emails, IVGID wanted to ask residents about planned changes to the law, which would bring it in line with the district's new franchise agreement with Waste Management, which, per IVGID, "requires residential customers" to use wildlife-resistant containers or bear boxes. Lyons disagreed with IVGID's wording, alleging that, among other concerns, an ordinance is what "requires" residents to do something per Nevada law, not a franchise agreement — and thus, by wording it otherwise, IVGID was intentionally misleading the public. That then spiraled into a back-and-forth accusatory exchange between Guinasso and Lyons. "No one is asking you to publish anything that is false and/or misleading … You are, once again, aggressively attempting to dictate to IVGID what they can publish in FlashVote and what they cannot publish," Guinasso wrote. "There is nothing constructive about unilaterally vetoing and/or revising language." Lyons responded, in part: "If IVGID wants to send crappy surveys (or worse), including previously rejected questions like they did recently with surveygizmo, that's up to IVGID. But we can't and don't do that — its the core of our value proposition to citizens and governments … We can no longer continue working with IVGID after the present intransigence and the perceived risks and hassles of continuing in this way." In a follow-up interview, Guinasso was asked if he or the district was deliberately attempting to break state law and/or intentionally mislead the public. Guinasso said that ordinances stand on their own regardless of implementation of a third-party service, and the verbiage in the Waste Management franchise agreement shouldn't affect the ordinance. "The franchise agreement is on its own track. It's already confusing enough to the public, so why make it worse?" asked Guinasso. Another Incident Between FlashVote and IVGID In July 2016, FlashVote sent out a "grassroots" survey about trash to some members of the Incline Village/Crystal Bay community. It read, in part: "NOTE: This is a Grassroots survey (beta) that has not been approved by IVGID or any government agency. Grassroots surveys may be sponsored by citizens or other community benefactors to give governments data they may not know they should have." In an email statement to the Bonanza for this story, Lyons said the IVGID logo was accidentally included in the survey due to a technical error, and the image was removed halfway through its release. The survey itself asked residents if they were aware of the garbage/recycling changes going into effect and their reaction to it. In another email string between Lyons and IVGID, Lyons stated to Moga in a July 28 message, "Just a heads up that it looks like we will doing a one day 'grassroots' survey on garbage service this afternoon, sponsored by some local citizens. It wont interfere with the regular survey scheduled for next week, but dont hesitate to call or email me if you have any other questions or concerns!" When asked for this story, Lyons declined to say who the private group of citizens was that sponsored the "grassroots" survey. IVGID apparently did have concerns, considering the perception that residents may struggle to distinguish between an IVGID-sanctioned survey, and a separate one sponsored by district residents — both being on a similar topic. According to the emails, Moga asked Lyons to hold off on sending the survey until it could be discussed with IVGID General Manager Steve Pinkerton. Lyons responded: "I cant actually do that, since someone else is the customer in this case…" Moga asked Lyons if he was using the IVGID-provided email list to conduct the private survey. Lyons responded, "It goes (looks like went) out to our users in the geographic area they selected which is the IVGID district which is Incline Village and Crystal Bay." When asked about this instance, Lyons emailed the following statement to the Bonanza, "FlashVote has never sent an 'unauthorized FlashVote survey' and FlashVote does not have an 'IVGID-provided customer database.' FlashVote customers have to approve every survey we launch for them." ADMINISTRATIVE DIFFERENCES? IVGID Trustee Matthew Dent has been a major advocate of FlashVote since joining the Board of Trustees as an appointee in 2015. He was elected to a full term earlier this November. Dent currently holds the second highest points in FlashVote's "IVGID group leaderboard" behind former Trustee Jim Smith, who resigned in August 2015 (of note, Dent was who replaced Smith on the board). Dent said he promoted FlashVote because he felt that IVGID needs a function for surveying the community, and that this allows the community to have its voice heard. "It's unfortunate that they ended their contract from what I understand is due to administrative differences between IVGID and FlashVote," Dent said. Guinasso said it is IVGID's duty to use local vendors when possible. One of FlashVote's current customers, Placer County, encouraged its citizens to sign up for FlashVote through its communication outlets, indicating that FlashVote retains the rights to all of the data it collects. The two surveys the county sent out in August and September had a positive response, said Placer County Spokesperson DeDe Cordell. "Our experience with FlashVote is positive. Anytime we can get more data on what we do, it's great for us," says Cordell. "A lot of people don't trust government period, so this is a great tool to get more data." She added that of all the tools the county uses to communicate, FlashVote's service is the least expensive. According to a proposal between Flashvote and Placer County provided this week to the Bonanza, Placer signed on for the same $4,900 rate. The Truckee Tahoe Airport District has also used FlashVote. General Manager Kevin Smith said the district sent out a FlashVote survey for its Master Plan project in 2015, and did not use it again. "I think it's a good product, but my Board just isn't impressed with surveys in general, so we did not continue using it," Smith said. According to an email from Lyons, FlashVote maintains a healthy client base, including several regional government agencies, such as the Tahoe City Public Utility District and city of South Lake Tahoe. Of that base, it appears IVGID has been the "lone problem child." "No other government has ever had the slightest problem or hiccup with this process," Lyons wrote in one of the email strings obtained by the Bonanza. "In fact they all deeply desire and appreciate it. IVGID management has now generated a problem for us twice in the last 6 months as the lone problem child." In his email to the Bonanza, Lyons indicated he's "enjoyed working on surveys with all the IVGID staff members who are dedicated to serving our community and hearing how useful FlashVote survey results are to their work. FlashVote will be open to considering alternative ways to continue to serve the IVGID community of users in the future." Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer. Email her at kaylaanderson1080@gmail.com. Bonanza Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to the research and editing of this report; you may email him at kmacmillan@sierrasun.com.

Local spokesman dies from brain virus

LAKE TAHOE – Dennis Oliver, of Incline Village, died Wednesday night following a serious, month-long illness. He was 47. Oliver, the public information officer for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, was an extremely valued employee of the agency during the last three and a half years, according to TRPA Executive Director Joanne Marchetta. “Dennis’s love for Lake Tahoe, combined with his superlative writing skills, made him an exceptional spokesperson for our agency and we are deeply saddened over his loss,” said Marchetta. Oliver relocated to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area in 2007. He was a key team member of the successful campaign for a ballot initiative to raise funds for fuels reduction work in the Douglas County portion of the Tahoe Basin and was a board member of the Sustainable Tahoe Congress, according to the TRPA. “Dennis made a major impact on Lake Tahoe during his time here,” said Julie Regan, external affairs director and Oliver’s supervisor and colleague. “We will remember his laughter, his extraordinary talents and especially his unwavering commitment to Lake Tahoe’s restoration.” In addition to his work with TRPA, Oliver ran for the Incline Village General Improvement District during the June 8 primary. He did not receive enough votes to move on to the general election. He referred to his primary run this summer as a success because he got some residents and voters “focusing on the future and letting go of the past,” according to a June interview after he lost in the IVGID primary. “His passion for environment and the Lake Tahoe Basin came out in everything he did and everything he said,” said Bill Horn, IVGID general manager. “He will be genuinely missed.” Oliver spent more than 27 years as a reporter, editor, writer, instructor and communications professional. He covered environmental policy, investigative news and special projects for the Oakland Tribune for three years. He also worked for six years as the director of communications for California Alliance for Jobs, where he focused on promoting public infrastructure work for two California labor unions. Impassioned for nature and the outdoors, Oliver also authored two regional travel, nature and outdoor guides, “Inside Out Northern California” (1999) and “Camping! Northern California” (2001). He earned a Bachelor of Arts at Saint Mary’s College of California. Oliver supported the arts and enjoyed painting in his spare time. He was also an avid poker player and supported many charitable poker tournaments at local casinos. Services are currently being scheduled. Staff members at TRPA are initiating an arts and environmental education fund in his memory. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, TRPA community liaison, at 775-589-5278 or send an e-mail to jcowen@trpa.org.

Primary election questions answered

Q: Will California's unofficial primary election results change after election night? When will all election results be final? A: Yes, election results will change throughout the canvass period as many more vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots cast at polling places, and other ballots are tallied. Depending on the volume of these types of ballots, it may take up to 28 days for county elections officials to verify voter records and determine if ballots have been cast by eligible voters. How often results are updated will vary based on the size of each county and the process each local elections office uses to tally and report votes. State law allows county elections officials until July 4 to complete their official canvass and certify final election results to the Secretary of State, and they often need that full month to finish the work. The Secretary of State will then compile and report all statewide results by July 11. While the Secretary of State cannot certify the winner of a contest before all ballots are counted by county elections officials, news media and campaigns sometimes choose to "call an election" sooner. The Secretary of State's election results website at http://vote.sos.ca.gov will be updated as county elections officials report results. County elections officials sometimes update their own websites before reporting to the Secretary of State. For county contact information go to http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_d.htm. Q: What is the Secretary of State's voter turnout prediction? A: The Secretary of State does not predict voter turnout and discourages voters from focusing on such predictions. Since 1984, voter turnout for primary elections in non-presidential primaries has ranged from 28 percent of registered voters in 2008 to 42 percent of registered voters in 1998. Some media and polling organizations survey potential voters and analyze historical voter participation statistics at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2012-primary/pdf/04-historical-voter-reg-primary.pdf in an effort to project future turnout. Q: Are vote-by-mail and provisional ballots always counted – even in "landslide" elections? A: Yes, every valid ballot returned to county elections officials by 8:00 p.m. on election day is counted in every election, regardless of the ballot type or the margin in any particular contest. Q: How do county elections officials count vote-by-mail and provisional ballots? A: Vote-by-mail ballots that are received by county elections offices before election day are typically counted on election day. Many more vote-by-mail ballots are dropped off at polling places or arrive at county elections offices on election day. In some counties, elections officials begin processing vote-by-mail ballots up to seven business days before the election, though no results can be released until all polls close on election day. Counting several million vote-by-mail and provisional ballots is a labor-intensive process. For each ballot, a county elections official must compare the voter's signature on the outside of the envelope to the signature on the voter's original registration application to ensure the signatures match. To preserve secrecy, the ballot is then separated from the envelope and added to the pile of ballots to be tallied. Q: How many Californians vote by mail? A: Since 1979 any Californian has had the option of voting by mail without having to provide a reason or an excuse. More than half of the ballots cast in the last three statewide primaries were sent in by mail. Go to http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/hist_absentee.htm for historical vote-by-mail statistics in statewide elections. Q: What is provisional voting? A: Provisional voting ensures that no properly registered voter is denied the right to cast a ballot. If, for any reason, a voter's name is not on the polling place list, the voter has the right to cast a provisional ballot in the county where he or she is registered. The provisional ballot will be counted after county elections officials have confirmed the voter is registered to vote and the voter did not already cast a ballot elsewhere in the election. Q: How can a voter find out if his or her ballot was counted? A: Under federal law, a voter who casts a provisional ballot is entitled to find out from the county elections office whether the ballot was counted and if not, why not. Under state law, a voter who casts a vote-by-mail ballot can find out if the ballot arrived at the county elections office. County elections officials may provide this information through websites, by telephone, or both. To access a county's website or phone number for checking ballot status, voters can go to http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status. Q: How does the top-two primary work? A: California conducts top-two primaries for legislative, congressional and constitutional offices. In top-two primary all candidates for an office are listed on the same ballot and anyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party preference. Only the two candidates who receive the most votes in each primary contest will move on to the general election in November. Q: Is a general election needed if there are only one or two candidates in a primary? A: Even if there are only one or two candidates in a constitutional, legislative or congressional primary contest, a general election is still required under California's top-two primary law. Q: What do party preference and no party preference (NPP) mean? Do NPP voters get to vote for all top-two primary contests? A: Under the top-two primary law, Californians who were known before 2011 as decline-to-state voters (because they did not have a party affiliation) are now referred to as NPP voters. If a legislative, congressional or constitutional candidate does not state a preference for a qualified political party, the phrase "no party preference" is listed next to the candidate's name. NPP voters may vote for constitutional, legislative and congressional offices. Q: How many statewide measures are on the ballot? How many votes are needed to pass a statewide ballot measure? A: There are two statewide propositions on the June 3 ballot and both were put on the ballot by the Legislature. An impartial analysis of each measure, the potential costs to taxpayers and more information are in the Secretary of State's Official Voter Information Guide that is mailed to each voting household and available at http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov. Each measure requires a simple majority of the public's vote to be enacted. Q: What candidates are on the June ballot? A: The Secretary of State's Certified List of Candidates at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/statewide-elections/2014-primary/updated-contact-info.pdf includes contact information for all candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Board of Equalization, congressional and legislative offices up for election. County elections offices have further information about candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, State Assembly and State Senate since such districts include precincts in just one or a few counties. County office websites are listed at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_d.htm. Q: Can workers take time off to vote on election day? A: The polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on election day. State law allows workers up to two hours off to vote, without a loss of pay, if they do not have enough time to do so in their non-work hours. The law requires workers to give their employers two working days' notice before the election if they will need to take time off to vote. Q: What if voters still have questions on election day? A: California voters may call the Secretary of State's toll-free voter hotline at (800) 345-8683, which will be answered live throughout election day and the day before. Voters can get the address of their polling place, ask election-related questions, or confidentially report potential election fraud or voter intimidation. Keep up with the latest California election news and trivia by following @CASOSvote on Twitter. To subscribe to state election news via email, RSS feed or Twitter, go to http://www.sos.ca.gov/multimedia. To view this and other Secretary of State press releases, go to http://www.sos.ca.gov/admin/news-releases.htm.

Early voting draws thousands to polling sites in Nevada

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Thousands of Nevadans are taking advantage of early voting options — even if there’s not much on their ballots — to vote in advance of the state’s Sept. 3 primary election. Susan Bilyeu, elections deputy for Secretary of State Dean Heller, said officials around the state said they were busy over the weekend as early voting started. She added more than 7,200 people cast ballots in the Las Vegas area alone. Bilyeu also predicted that by the time all votes are counted following the Sept. 3 primary, as many as half of the voters will have cast their ballots early. Until now, the average has been about 40 percent. But one reason for a higher percentage in early voters is that fewer voters overall may make it to the polls — because there aren’t a lot of exciting primary battles. In most cases, the likely primary winners are obvious, and the leading major party candidates are looking ahead to showdowns in the November general election. Several candidates in the primary have no opposition at all. “We’ve had much more exciting primaries in the past, and we will in the future,” Heller says. “This is just one of those election cycles where the general election is going to carry the weight.” The statewide elective offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, controller and secretary of state, plus two state Supreme Court seats and three congressional slots, are up this year. In the races for the various statewide and congressional offices, there might have been 20 primary contests if enough candidates had filed. Instead, there are only six — Republican and Democratic primaries for governor; a GOP primary for lieutenant governor; and two GOP primaries and one Democratic primary in the U.S. House contests. In addition, Nevada voters will fill 42 seats in the state Assembly and 11 of the 21 state Senate seats. With enough major party candidates, there could have been more than 100 legislative primaries. Instead there are fewer than half that number. Early voting ends Aug. 30. Once the primary election is over, early voting will run from Oct. 19 until Nov. 1 for the 2002 general election. Election Day is Nov. 5.

Assembly panel approves bills that could alter presidential campaigns

SACRAMENTO (AP) – Two bills that could shake up presidential politics by giving California one of the earliest primaries in the nation and undercutting the Electoral College were approved Tuesday by the Assembly elections committee. The bills’ author, committee chairman Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, said the measures were designed to increase California’s clout in determining who sits in the Oval Office. “It’s an effort to make California relevant again in presidential elections,” he said. One of the bills would put California in competition with New Hampshire to have the earliest presidential primary elections in the nation. It would require the secretary of state to schedule a vote-by-mail California presidential primary as early as Jan. 2 or at least on the same day as the first primary held that year by any other state. The second bill would ratify an interstate compact under which California’s 55 Electoral College members would agree to support the winner of the national popular vote for president, regardless of the outcome of the election in California. The compact would have be ratified by states with a majority of electoral votes to take effect. It’s currently under consideration in four other states – Louisiana, Illinois, Missouri and Colorado, where it’s passed the state Senate, according to an Assembly analysis of Umberg’s bill. Umberg said that because California holds one of the latest presidential primaries in the country, in June, and has voted solidly for Democratic candidates in the last four elections, presidential campaigns tend to ignore the state except to raise money. “There’s really no reason for presidential candidates to focus on California issues,” he said. “We are an ATM machine of sorts.” Moving the primary up and tying the state’s electoral votes to the national popular vote would force candidates to campaign here, he said. Instead of just focusing on a few swing states like Florida and Ohio, presidential nominees would have to campaign in a number of states and focus on national issues if the Electoral College compact was implemented, Umberg added. The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee voted 6-0 and 5-2 to approve the bills even though several members expressed reservations about them. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, said he was concerned that a separate presidential primary would reduce voter turnout for the June primary, which would continue to be held for state and congressional candidates and ballot measures. “I want the most people in any election voting,” he said. Assemblyman Mike Villines, R-Fresno, said scheduling three statewide elections in the same year – the presidential primary, the state primary and the general election – could result in voter fatigue. And Assemblyman Mark Wyland, R-Del Mar, said putting the California primary first could undercut low-budget candidates by forcing them to campaign early in a high-cost state like California. Umberg said that wouldn’t necessarily be the case if the California Republican Party, like the Democrats, agreed to award national convention delegates on a proportional instead of a winner-take-all basis. That would allow a candidate with limited funds to campaign in one area of the state and still win delegates in the primary, he said. California has tried to increase its clout in presidential elections before by moving up its primary. It held its primary in March in 1996, 2000 and 2004, only to see other states undercut the move by moving up their primaries too. After a low turnout in the 2004 primary, lawmakers voted to return the primary to the traditional first Tuesday after the first Monday in June for this year’s elections. An extremely early 2008 California presidential primary could cost the state national convention delegates by violating national Democratic and Republican party rules. It would also put California at odds with New Hampshire, whose laws require its presidential primary to be held at least seven days before any other state’s primary election. Both measures now move to the Appropriations Committee, the last stop before the full Assembly.

Douglas clerk expects low primary turnout

MINDEN, Nev. – Less than half of Douglas County’s nearly 32,000 voters are expected to participate in this year’s primary election. Clerk-Treasurer Ted Thran said he’s expecting 40 percent turnout in the election. Early voting begins on May 26, but Thran said he’s already received around 1,700 requests for absentee ballots. Thran said the lower turnout will help the clerk’s office prepare for what’s expected to be a big response for the presidential election in November. “It means we can get all the bugs worked out for the general election,” he said. Thran said the clerk’s office has enough voting machines and people to staff polling places throughout the county. In addition to the county courthouse in Minden, a schedule of satellite polling places will be open during early voting around the county, ranging from Topaz Ranch Estates to Johnson Lane to Lake Tahoe. During early voting, residents can cast a vote at any open polling place, but on election day, they must go to their precinct polling location to cast a ballot. The only local primary on Republicans’ ballot in the June 12 primary is for Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Mike Olson is facing a challenge from Saratoga resident Barry Penzel and Indian Hills General Improvement District trustee Diane Humble. The top two vote-getters will be on the general election ballot in November. The odds aren’t quite so good in the Republican primary for Assembly District 39. Incumbent Kelly Kite is facing a challenge from Gardnerville resident Jim Wheeler and Dayton Resident Gary Schmidt. Only one of them will survive to the general election. Republicans will also get to choose their candidate to run for U.S. Senate. Sen. Dean Heller was appointed to the seat formerly held by John Ensign, and is seeking election to the seat. Republicans outnumber Democrats in Douglas County 16,437 to 8,720, according to the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office. Democrats will see the federal races for U.S. Senator and representative in Congress. All voters in Carson Valley, including those registered nonpartisan and in minor parties, will see races for State School Board and University Board of Regents on their ballots. Nevada’s closed primary system requires that voters be registered in a particular party to vote on those races. Starting today, the only way to register to vote or change registration in time for the June 12 primary is to show up at the clerk’s office in person. Voter registration to participate in the primary election officially closes on May 22.

TRPA withdrawl sponsor defeated in primary election

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The North Las Vegas lawmaker who sponsored the bill to pull Nevada out of the TRPA was defeated in the primary. State Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, was overwhelmingly defeated in the Democratic primary against newcomer Patricia Spearman. Spearman had 63 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Lee. The contest is expected to be decided with Spearman’s primary victory because of the strong Democratic voter edge in the district. Lee was also one of the sponsors of the bill to pull Nevada out of the TRPA. Progressive activists targeted Lee because of his conservative stand on some social issues. Spearman’s victory, however, won’t alter the political landscape as Republicans and Democrats face off in several other Senate districts in the effort to take control of the 21-member house in 2013. The Nevada Priorities PAC, which supported Spearman in her underdog challenge, said Lee was their initial target because of his weak voting record on issues relating to education, civil rights, the environment and women’s choice. Las Vegan Danny Tarkanian narrowly beat out state Sen. Barbara Cegavske in the 4th Congressional District GOP primary, surviving a tough challenge in the contest to see who will face Democrat state Sen. Steven Horsford in the November general election. The son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, Tarkanian overcame bad publicity surrounding news that he and his family face a $17 million judgment in a civil real estate case out of California. The race was close, with Tarkanian ending up with 32 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Cegavske. Cegavske won the more populous Clark County in the district which also stretches across much of rural Nevada. Tarkanian made up the difference with strong showings in the rurals, including Esmeralda, Lyon, Mineral and White Pine counties. But Tarkanian faces an uphill battle in the new congressional district created in Nevada as a result of the 2010 census. The district, composed of parts of Clark County and several rural counties, has a 113,000 to 90,000 Democratic voter edge as of the close of the primary. “Voting records have consequences,” said Priorities PAC spokesperson Annette Magnus. “When we have a so-called friend abandon us on issue after issue, we were left with little recourse but to launch an independent campaign to educate primary voters.” Lee raised more than $208,000 for his re-election bid, while the Nevada Priorities Political Action Committee raised $86,000. Spearman raised less than $14,000. The statewide primary featured very low turnout by registered voters statewide. Fewer than 20 percent of active voters cast ballots in the primary. There were no surprises in the other state Senate primary battles, with the toughest challenge in the GOP Senate District 9 contest, where Mari Nakashima St. Martin fended off Brent Jones. The race featured allegations of “partying” by St. Martin, while Jones was questioned about whether he took advantage of a mentally disabled man more than a decade ago by selling him two ostrich eggs for $30,000 to establish an ostrich farm. The race pitted GOP Senate Caucus favorite St. Martin against Jones, an avowed opponent of new taxes. St. Martin had 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Jones. A similar GOP primary battle occurred in Senate District 18, where Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, defeated Assemblyman Richard McArthur, R-Las Vegas, and Conrad Vergara. Hammond was the GOP Senate Caucus choice who voted to continue a package of expiring tax hikes in 2011, while McArthur ran as a no taxes candidate who opposed the package. Hammond had 56 percent of the vote to 41 percent for McArthur. For Democrats, Kelli Ross defeated Donna Schlemmer in state Senate 18 and will face Hammond in a district that has a Republican voter registration edge. The Senate races are critical to both Republicans and Democrats to determine who controls the Senate in the 2013 legislative session. Democrats currently have an 11-10 edge. The other three state Senate races in play between the parties are Senate 5, 6 and 15. The party primaries in Senate 5 and 6 had no surprises. Senate 15 in Reno had no primary. Republicans need to win four of the five races to take an 11-10 edge in 2013. In some of the other races and issues facing voters around Nevada, the Laughlin incorporation vote went down to defeat. Residents of the community 90 miles south of Las Vegas rejected the idea of forming their own city by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. There were no surprises in the other congressional races. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., both won their primaries in the Senate contest. Former Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., had no opponent in the 1st Congressional District. She will face Republican Chris Edwards in November. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., will face Democrat Samuel Koepnick, who won his primary on Tuesday. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., was easily winning his primary in the 3rd District and will face Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, in November. In the two State Board of Education races, Allison Serafin and Ed Klapproth, were leading among five candidates in District 3 in Clark County, with 31 percent and 21 percent of the vote, respectively. Both will appear on the November ballot. In the District 2 race in Northern Nevada among five candidates, current board member Dave Cook had 31 percent of the vote and Donna Clontz had 25 percent. Both will be on the November ballot. Former Lt. Gov. and Regent Lonnie Hammargren had just over 50 percent of the vote in the race for the Board of Regents in District 12. Andrea Anderson was second in the four person race with 28 percent of the vote.

In South Lake Tahoe: High turnout, few glitches for elections

Hundreds of thousands of newly registered voters had election officials expecting a high turnout for today’s primary, but confusion surrounding the name of one political party had some leaving the polls disappointed. Seven hundred thousand Californians have registered since 2004’s presidential primary; 242,202 since December alone, according to statistics from Secretary of State Debra Bowen. “Voter registration drives across the state have paid off, because there are now tens of thousands of new voters who will have their voices heard on Feb. 5,” Bowen said in a news statement. El Dorado County Registrar of Voters William Schultz originally was skeptical about voter turnout, but the approximately 30,000 El Dorado vote-by-mail ballots turned in within the past week changed his mind. “That’s a great number,” Schultz said. And not just for a traditionally humble primary. “That’s unusual for any election,” Schultz said. “Anything over that, and it’s almost like a record-buster.” About 50,000 El Dorado County residents are registered to vote by mail, Schultz added. Even with larger percentages of people not voting in person, veteran poll inspector Diana Lee Foster reported a “steady flow” of voters Tuesday to the polling location at South Lake Tahoe Fire Station No. 2. Republicans changed the rule allowing unaffiliated people to vote in their primary elections last year and now have a “closed” primary. But the Democratic Party still allows unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary. Many people wanting to register independent of any party, believing they would be able to vote in the Democratic primary, actually registered with the American Independent Party, Foster said. The American Independent Party describes itself as “the fastest-growing political party in California” and has a pro-life, anti-war platform encouraging immigration reduction and the termination of free-trade agreements. “I would have voted for Hillary, but I was registered Independent,” South Lake Tahoe resident Kate McBrien said after casting her vote for the seven propositions on the ballot. McBrien said she likely will change her political affiliation ahead of the next primary. Others who mistakenly registered as American Independents, rather than as undeclared, were snatching up change-of-party forms at the polling place. Foster’s supply of 20 forms was exhausted, and the poll inspector was waiting for a runner to bring more. The change-of-party forms did not allow people who made the mistake to vote in the Democratic party’s Tuesday primary, but it changed their political affiliation for future elections. Voters wishing to remain unaffiliated with a political party but wanting to cast a ballot during the Democratic Party’s primary, should mark “decline to state” when choosing an affiliation, then request to vote in the primary, according to a news release from the secretary of state.

Douglas early primary voter turnout heavy

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – Turnout for early and absentee voting in Douglas County for Tuesday’s primary is leading the statewide average by nearly 4 percent, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. Early voting this year is also ahead of previous early voting for primaries, including 50 percent ahead of 2008 and 25 percent ahead of the 2006 primary. Clerk-Treasurer Ted Thran said moving the primary to June appears to be increasing turnout. “I think we’re going to be higher than in previous primaries.” According to figures appearing on the Secretary of State’s Web site, 19.34 percent of Douglas voters cast their ballots either by voting early or by mail. That put the county in the middle of the pack. Clerks have received 1,048 absentee ballots so far, which is more than the 700 received in earlier elections, according to Thran. “That’s way above average,” he said. Absentee ballots may be mailed or delivered to polling locations, the clerk’s office or put in either of the clerk’s drop boxes up until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Nevada polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voters must cast ballots at their precinct on Election Day.

High turnout, few glitches for election

Hundreds of thousands of newly registered voters had election officials expecting a high turnout for Tuesday’s primary, but confusion surrounding the name of one political party had some leaving the polls disappointed. Seven hundred thousand Californians have registered since 2004’s presidential primary; 242,202 since December alone, according to statistics from Secretary of State Debra Bowen. “Voter registration drives across the state have paid off, because there are now tens of thousands of new voters who will have their voices heard on Feb. 5,” Bowen said in a news statement. El Dorado County Registrar of Voters William Schultz originally was skeptical about voter turnout, but the approximately 30,000 El Dorado vote-by-mail ballots turned in within the past week changed his mind. “That’s a great number,” Schultz said. And not just for a traditionally humble primary. “That’s unusual for any election,” Schultz said. “Anything over that, and it’s almost like a record-buster.” About 50,000 El Dorado County residents are registered to vote by mail, Schultz added. Even with larger percentages of people not voting in person, veteran poll inspector Diana Lee Foster reported a “steady flow” of voters Tuesday to the polling location at South Lake Tahoe Fire Station No. 2. Republicans changed the rule allowing unaffiliated people to vote in their primary elections last year and now have a “closed” primary. But the Democratic Party still allows unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary. Many people wanting to register independent of any party, believing they would be able to vote in the Democratic primary, actually registered with the American Independent Party, Foster said. The American Independent Party describes itself as “the fastest-growing political party in California” and has a pro-life, anti-war platform encouraging immigration reduction and the termination of free-trade agreements. “I would have voted for Hillary, but I was registered Independent,” South Lake Tahoe resident Kate McBrien said after casting her vote for the seven propositions on the ballot. McBrien said she likely will change her political affiliation ahead of the next primary. Others who mistakenly registered as American Independents, rather than as undeclared, were snatching up change-of-party forms at the polling place. Foster’s supply of 20 forms was exhausted, and the poll inspector was waiting for a runner to bring more. The change-of-party forms did not allow people who made the mistake to vote in the Democratic party’s Tuesday primary, but it changed their political affiliation for future elections. Voters wishing to remain unaffiliated with a political party but wanting to cast a ballot during the Democratic Party’s primary, should mark “decline to state” when choosing an affiliation, then request to vote in the primary, according to a news release from the secretary of state.