Letter to the editor: Statement on the 2024 Primary Election


The June primary elections are over. Nominees have been picked, and a few non-partisan races decided. Turnout was relatively low, though not at all outside the norm. In Lyon County, 18.7% of registered voters participated; 32.5 % in Douglas County.

Unfortunately, 27% of the voters in Assembly District 39, which includes all of Douglas County and a good portion of Lyon County, could not have participated even if they wanted to. These are non-partisan voters, who cannot vote in our closed primaries because they are not registered members of a political party.

Low primary turnout is a complicated issue, but our closed system adds an arbitrary barrier which helps produce results like what we saw in Lyon County Commission District 3. The winner of the Republican primary received 4,226 votes, her opponent 1,915. No Democrats ran, so the Republican primary winner will be the only name on the November ballot and will, of course, be elected. The system worked just as it is supposed to and the candidates played by the rules, but just the same our commissioner will take office by virtue of winning 8.8% of the 47,791 registered voters in the county. No matter what the explanation, it is hard to square this with the concept of representative government.


I believe the right to vote should include more than choosing from a list of candidates. It should include deciding who gets on the list in the first place.

My proposal would open the primaries to non-partisan voters by giving them the choice of Democratic, Republican, or third-party ballots, which they would then submit as usual. Changing a system which shuts out more than a quarter of the voters is a no-brainer. It would also challenge candidates to broaden their appeal to a wider, more diverse group of voters—which is a good thing.

Erich Obermayr

Candidate, Nevada Assembly District 39

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