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Monday, November 5, 2012

In Nevada, a Push to Get Holdouts to the Polls

LAS VEGAS - In Nevada, where nearly 70 percent of voters had already cast their ballots, both sides pushed forward with fervent last-minute efforts to get the stragglers to polls.

Figures released by elections officials showed that Democrats held an edge of more than 40,000 voters by the time early voting ended last week. In Clark County, the state's most populous, more Democrats had voted early this year than in 2008.

With the advantage apparently for President Obama in early voting, Mitt Romney's campaign had imported a 600-member volunteer army from nearby states. The group gathered Monday morning at the Las Vegas offices of Brady Industries, a facility supply distributor.

The volunteers were dispatched in 40 vans to Las Vegas-area neighborhoods, where they planned to walk door to door, guiding by walking lists of conservative voters. After sundown they planned to return to Brady Industries, where the company had donated space for a large phone bank.

One of the volunteers was Lisa Vander, 50, of San Diego, who said she was unemployed despite an “incredible” résumé and blames it on the current economy. “It's really about jobs jobs jobs,” Ms. Vander said. She said she believed Mr. Romney would do more for the economy.

Mr. Romney's running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, began his day Monday with a final campaign stop in Reno. Later in the day, Craig Romney, Mr. Romney's Spanish-speaking son, was to hold a rally on the heavily Hispanic east side of Las Vegas.

The state's Hispanic vote - about 25 percent of the total - was viewed as critical. The organization Mi Familia Vota had worked to make sure Hispanics registered and went to the polls in early voting. On Tuesday the group is planning to drive additional voters to polling places. The effort appears to have been successful. In Clark County, the home of Las Vegas, early voting among those with Hispanic surna mes outstripped turnout in 2008 by more than 12,000 voters. The group skews heavily Democratic.

The Obama campaign was also working to scrape up every remaining vote. At a senior housing complex in downtown Las Vegas named after Senator Harry Reid, Betty Barfield, a volunteer coordinator for the Obama campaign, was sitting outside in her wheel chair. Half the complex of 100 apartments had voted early, Ms. Barfield said. She had arranged for two buses to come take the remaining residents to polls on Tuesday. Almost all of them will vote for Mr. Obama, she said.

“It's really been a joy and a privilege for me,” said Ms. Barfield, a minister who is African-American. “I never thought I would see this and it would happen in my lifetime. I thank God for letting me live long enough.”

She has also held phone banks and Obama meetings at the senior complex, many of them catered. The Obama campaign supplied ice cream for one of them. “Any time you want peopl e to come and hear what you have to say, you must have free food,” Ms. Barfield said.

Morning television viewers in Las Vegas on Monday were bombarded with back-to-back commercials paid for by both the candidates and outside groups supporting both sides. Campaign-weary Nevadans said they were particularly tired of the negative advertising in the race between Senator Dean Heller, a Republican, against his Democratic opponent, Representative Shelley Berkley.