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With control of the U.S. Senate at stake, the race in Nevada is too close to call

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

With control of the U.S. Senate at stake, the race in Nevada is too close to call at this hour. We may not know anything until Friday, when tens of thousands of mail-in ballots are expected to be counted. Republican Adam Laxalt has a razor thin lead over the incumbent Democrat, Catherine Cortez Masto. In the House race, one race has been called for a Republican in Nevada. Three Democrats are favored to hold on to their seats, but that could change. Our co-host, A Martínez, is in Las Vegas and joins us now. Hey, A.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Hi.

MARTIN: You sound like you are in a place. Where are you?

MARTÍNEZ: Yes. Yes. We're in an area called Fremont Street Experience. It's an outdoor covered mall with shops, casinos and entertainment. For those who remember the U2 song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," this is where your pal Bono and the band shot the video...

MARTIN: OK.

MARTÍNEZ: ...At this outdoor mall - borders east Las Vegas. Seventy percent of Nevada's Latino voters live here. And leading up to the election, analysts believe that their votes, or actually maybe their lack of votes, Rachel, could determine who controls the state in the U.S. Senate.

MARTIN: So you were out visiting polling stations yesterday. What did you hear from voters?

MARTÍNEZ: Well, much of the elections chatter here was about this perceived enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. We heard many times that Democrats were slow to engage and Republicans were all fired up. That was certainly the case for Scott Anderson (ph). He's a Republican we met right after he voted.

SCOTT ANDERSON: The southern border is a sieve. You know, it's worse than Swiss cheese. The banning of drilling and fracking and just this nonsense of this Green New Deal - these people have to go.

MARTÍNEZ: Anderson brought a friend with him to the polls, and he said their goal was to stop the Democrats from destroying the country.

MARTIN: What did Democrats have to say about that when you spoke with them?

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Well, Democratic canvassers that we spoke to felt like they had two opponents - Republicans and then voter apathy. Jose Luis Verserra (ph) did go out and vote. He was concerned about education. He brought up a theme, though, that we heard from a number of Democrats we talked to. Verserra says that when it's all said and done, he was not convinced his vote counted for much.

JOSE LUIS VERSERRA: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: And Verserra says, you know that when they win, they forget what they promise. It's just like in Mexico. In Mexico, they promise many things and then they forget. Now, I also chatted with Adam - Alan Gill (ph). He was concerned about women's rights and the economy. Those were the issues that guided how he voted. And I asked him if he thought his vote would have a direct impact on his life.

ALAN GILL: Nope. I vote. I've - I served my country. But seeing it affect me personally, no. I don't see it happening. But...

MARTÍNEZ: Yet you still come out and vote, so you obviously have faith in something.

GILL: Oh, yeah, definitely. I always have faith in my country. But your question was, do I see it affecting me personally? No, I don't.

MARTIN: But he still obviously takes the responsibility of voting very seriously, even if he doesn't feel it in his own life. Did you talk with people for whom these issues would affect them in their day-to-day?

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, absolutely. Kevin Williams. He had a somewhat different perspective. He took a big-picture view here. He's a young Black man who's worried about women's reproductive rights. And he spoke to us while wearing a face mask and says he doesn't know if his vote will have an impact this time around, but he thinks of it as a bit of an investment in future elections.

KEVIN WILLIAMS: If I don't vote, then my community is not going to be looked at for advertisements. They're going to be looked at for their own issues the next elections. And so all this is public information. That's how the next year, the next - whatever the situation - next campaign is going to be looking at who voted in it last time 'cause they're more likely to vote again. And so I want to make sure that I'm an advocate for my causes as well, and just to let people know that I'm here.

MARTIN: A sampling...

MARTÍNEZ: Just in case that was tough to hear, yeah, he's saying he wants to know that - he wants everyone to know he's engaged.

MARTIN: A sampling of voter voices from the state of Nevada and Las Vegas in particular, which is where we heard from A Martínez, our co-host. Thanks, A.

MARTÍNEZ: No problem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.