Last Friday, the last day of early voting, Nevada voters saw huge lines at the polls as over half the state’s registered voters cast their ballots early this election.
Clark County, Nevada’s largest county, home to Las Vegas, Henderson and over two-thirds of the state’s registered voters, saw a record-breaking single-day turnout of 57,174 early voters, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office.
At the close of early voting in Clark County, Democrats had established a lead of over 72,000 votes, putting them 13.7 points ahead of Republicans, according to CNN.
Republican officials say they expect to carry Washoe County, Nevada’s second-largest county, which includes Reno. If Trump can win in Washoe County, officials say he could still carry the state without winning Clark County.
In Washoe County, however, Democrats have cast more ballots in the early voting cycle than Republicans. According to the Washoe County Registrar’s Office, a record-breaking 129,727 people voted early. In the 2012 election, Washoe County set the previous record of 111,189 early voters. The Associated Press reported 51 percent of early voters were Democrats while 33 percent were Republicans.
The caveat here is that early voting historically favors Democrats, as Republicans usually wait until Election Day to vote. Even so, this year’s data has shown an outsized lead for Democrats above what’s been observed in previous elections.
In Clark County, a large crowd of voters waited in line at a polling place in Cardenas Market three hours after the polls were scheduled to close. The voters in line were allowed to vote if they were a part of the line before the polls closed at 8 p.m.
Yvanna Cancela, the political director of Culinary Union Local 226, a union that represents housekeepers, cooks and dealers in Las Vegas casinos, tweeted about the long line of voters, saying, “Looks like Trump got his wall after all. A wall of beautiful voters.”
Despite the legal time extension, the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, Michael McDonald, raised suspicion of fraud and favoritism in the time extension and voiced his suspicions and concerns to a group of Trump supporters at the rally in Reno on Saturday.
“Last night in Clark County, they kept a poll open till 10 so that a certain group could vote,” McDonald said. “The polls are supposed to close at 7. This was kept open until 10. Yeah, you feel free right now? You think this is a free and easy election? That’s why it’s important.”
McDonald continued with Trump’s rigged-election rhetoric and brought attention to the Republican Party’s concern for the high turnout of Hispanic voters in this election. Clark County, far and away the largest county in Nevada, has a population that’s over 30 percent Hispanic.
Along with Clark County polling places’ long lines, several polling places in Washoe County saw huge lines with high voter turnout. Students waited in line for hours last Friday at the polling place on campus at the University of Nevada, Reno, inside the Joe Crowley Student Union.
“I haven’t seen it this long all week,” said UNR student Austin Augusto. “I was planning on voting today, but I might just have to wait till Election Day because I don’t have this kind of time.”
Across historic battleground states, early voting numbers have increased since the 2012 presidential election.
In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections reported over 45 percent of the state’s 7 million voters have cast their ballots early. In Florida, over 6.4 million people cast their early ballots, a record high that accounts for around two-thirds of the state’s registered voters.
Several states have reported record-high early voter turnout, but a number of states remain toss-ups that could go either way come Election Day.
Rachel Spacek can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush