6:45 a.m. I love Election Day. To me, it is more exciting than Superbowl Sunday, Burning Man and Christmas all rolled into one. I had stress dreams last night, something about sitting naked at a computer in front of a crowd.
There is nothing—OK, maybe getting caught up in a barroom brawl in a dive bar on Fourth Street—that gets my adrenaline pumping the way the first Tuesday in November does.
Campaigns are the civilized version of a barroom brawl. Combatants look for strengths and weaknesses in their opponents—dodging a slander, throwing a position, psyching a rival—all the while trying to maintain the high ground. It’s a beautiful thing, like when a lion brings down an antelope, the circle of life.
I am the third person in line at Katherine Dunn Elementary in Sparks. A poll worker tells me she’s never seen such a line before the polls opened. Despite my familiarity with the ballot, it takes me 10 minutes to fill it out; by the time I’m done, 12 people have filed their ballots, one man has had his ballot kicked out by the machine, and the line has grown to at least three dozen people.
“Thank you for voting,” says the lady handing me a red, white and blue oval “I voted” sticker.
“My pleasure,” I reply, as I rush back to my car to get home to check out the early voting news from the East Coast. And I am not kidding.
6:35 p.m.: The Washoe County Registrar of Voters Office is a beehive. The phones ring relentlessly. People are coming in with their voting problems. I don’t mean to stereotype, but it looks to me like a lot of people are coming in to vote in favor of Question 9. They might as well make paper airplanes of their ballots. The majority of the problems I see result from those mail-in ballots. Some people threw theirs out, thinking it was political junk mail, some didn’t save the outer envelope, some were being delivered by spouses.
Registrar Dan Burk, in between running to the back where the ballots will arrive, overseeing some hand counts of mail-in ballots and doing media interviews, waits on a couple customers at the counter.
As the 7 p.m. close of polls approaches, a group of women stand around a telephone with the speaker turned on. Someone has dialed “time” and they are doing a count down. A man runs in at 6:59:10, and everyone cheers at the last ballot of the evening arrives.
A lady hangs the closed sign; the door is locked. Maybe 20 seconds later, an envelope slides under the door. Too late.
At 7:10 p.m., the operatives come in a cluster. The campaign managers and staff want to make sure that there are no surprises: precincts missing, red-hots uncounted, computer meltdowns. In some ways, tonight is their night, the only night that elections can be ethically looked at as horseraces. It’s their night in the way Superbowl Sunday isn’t about the teams but the coaches. Soon, these coaches either will be squealing like schoolgirls or brutally subdued.
9:01 p.m. It’s all over but the crying. All precincts are in. The only votes remaining to be counted are some mail-in votes, today’s absentee and problem ballots, which got kicked out of the counting machine for one reason or another. The registrar makes a short speech, congratulating his crew and the 53 percent of registered voters who turned out to uphold democracy.
9:11 p.m. David Robert, the RN&R’s shooter, and I head over to Bob Cashell’s victory party. I haven’t had breakfast yet, so I hope the food is good. I’m trying to figure out how Zadra, Dortch and Cashell’s victories relate to WC-7’s resounding failure, and I’m so preoccupied I turn the wrong way down Center Street. I’ll bet I haven’t done that in nearly 20 years. Cashell gives a short victory speech, thanking many who worked on his campaign. How can you not like a guy who cries when he introduces his wife and old friends? Honest to God, for one split second there, I am afraid he is going to go all Sally Field on us. I’m amazed at the number of luminaries in this room; my lungs are filled with the odor of money.
10:13 p.m. The GOP is having their election night party at the Peppermill. Robert and I stay long enough to congratulate Dwight Dortch and Jason Geddes, who made his way over from his own party at the Little Waldorf. It’s kind of a zombie dance over here; no obviously shit-faced politicos, although this is the one night when that sort of behavior might be tolerated. Robert makes it to the buffet table, but he gives Cashell’s grub the superior rating.
10:38 p.m. We arrive at the fourth-floor convention space of Harrah’s, where the Democratic Party is supposed to be partying. Waiters are busing tables and pulling off table cloths. The TVs are black. We catch the last two party animals as they close the doors.
Editor’s note: At our press time, results were still unofficial.
Question 1 (conservation resource protection bonds): Passed
Question 2 (anti-gay petition): Passed
Question 3 (sales tax exemption for farm machinery): Failed
Question 4 (sales tax exemption for race car parts): Failed
Question 5 (perpetuities): Failed
Question 6 (judge terms): Failed
Question 7 (state debt limit exemption for schools): Failed
Question 8 (property tax reduction for hardship): Passed
Question 9 (marijuana): Failed
WCSD-1 (rollover bonds): Passed
WC-1 (fluoridation): Failed
WC-2 (regional transportation): Passed
WC-3 (animal shelter): Passed
WC-4 (sphere of influence and municipal services): Failed
WC-5 (unincorporated town): Failed
WC-6 (unincorporated municipal services): Failed
WC-7 (train trench): Failed
WC-8 (tobacco use): Passed
WC-9 (secondhand smoke): Passed
City of Reno
R-1 (arts and recreation bond): Failed
R-2 (Washoe County/Reno consolidation): Passed
R-3 (remove Reno from Washoe County): Failed
Federal offices Representative in Congress: Jim Gibbons, Republican
Governor: Kenny C. Guinn, Republican
Lt. Governor: Lorraine Hunt, Republican
Secretary of State: Dean Heller, Republican
State Treasurer: Brian Krolicki, Republican
State Controller: Kathy Augustine, Republican
Attorney General: Brian Sandoval, Republican
State Senator, Washoe Dist. 1: Bernice Martin Mathews, Democrat
State Senator, Washoe Dist. 2: Maurice Washington, Republican
State Senator, Washoe Dist. 4: Randolph Townsend, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 24: Jason Geddes, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 25: Dawn Gibbons, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 26: Sharron Angle, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 27: Sheila Leslie, Democrat
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 30: Don Gustavson, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 31: Bernie Anderson, Democrat
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 32: John Marvel, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 35: Pete Goicoechea, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 39: Lynn Hettrick, Republican
State Assemblyperson, Dist. 40: Ron Knecht, Republican
County partisan offices
County Commissioner, Dist. 2: David Humke, Republican
County Commissioner, Dist. 3: Pete J. Sferrazza, Democrat
County Commissioner, Dist. 5: Bonnie Weber, Republican
Washoe County Assessor: Robert W. McGowan, Democrat
Washoe County Clerk:Amy Harvey, Republican
Constable, Incline Village: Joseph Kubo, Republican
District Attorney: Dick Gammick, Republican
Public Administrator: Don Cavallo, Republican
Washoe County Recorder: Kathy Burke, Republican
Washoe County Treasurer: Bill Berrum, Republican
State non-partisan offices
Supreme Court Justice, Seat B: Bill Maupin
Supreme Court Justice, Seat D: Mark Gibbons
State Board of Education, District 10: Cliff Ferry
Regent, University of Nevada, Dist. 10: Howard Rosenberg
District non-partisan offices
District Court Judge, Dept. 1: Janet J. Berry
District Court Judge, Dept. 2: Charles M. McGee
District Court Judge, Dept. 3: Jerry Polaha
District Court Judge, Dept. 4: Connie J. Steinheimer
District Court Judge, Dept. 6: Brent T. Adams
District Court Judge, Dept. 7: Peter I. Breen
District Court Judge, Dept. 8: Steven R. Kosach
District Court Judge, Dept. 9: James W. Hardesty
District Court Judge, Dept. 10: Steve Elliott
District Court Judge, Dept. 12: Frances Doherty
Trustee, School Board, Seat B: Nancy Hollinger
Trustee, School Board, Seat C: Galen Mitchell
Trustee, School Board, Seat F: Lezlie Porter
County non-partisan offices
Sheriff: Dennis Balaam
City of Reno offices
Mayor: Bob Cashell
Councilperson, Ward 2: Sharon Zadra
Councilperson, Ward 4: Dwight Dortch
City Attorney: Patricia Lynch
Municipal Court: Jay W. Dilworth