Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar has a plan to increase voter turnout: allowing Nevadans to vote in Allegiant Stadium.
This weekend, thousands will fill the 4-year-old stadium for the city’s first Super Bowl. Next, Aguilar wants to see it, and other sports complexes in Las Vegas, used as polling sites.
“I think there’s a lot of community members in Las Vegas who have never had the opportunity to visit Allegiant Stadium,” he said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “And if we incorporate voting into the process, this will give them an opportunity to see something that they’ve invested in as a Nevadan.”
The secretary of state thought of the idea after reading a January editorial from NFL Front Office Analyst Scott Pioli, where he called on professional sports teams to work with election administrators to use their facilities as part of the voting process in 2024.
“It’s not about politics, right?” Pioli told the Review-Journal. “This is one of our most basic rights as an American to be able to vote, yet we make it so inconvenient for certain communities and much more convenient for other communities.”
Pioli has been a longtime advocate for using sports stadiums as polling sites. In 2020, half of the NFL’s stadiums were used for election support in some capacity, according to Pioli, and more than 66,000 voters cast ballots at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Pioli said.
A June 2022 study published by Tova Wang, senior researcher at Harvard Kennedy School, found that using stadiums as voting centers was beneficial to everyone involved in the election process.
It eased the burden for election workers and made the process more convenient and pleasant for voters, and the stadium staff enjoyed being a part of democracy, Wang told the Review-Journal. The lines tend to be shorter, there is more parking, and the staff who work in the stadiums are also used to getting people in and out quickly, Wang said.
“If you make voting a better experience, people are going to be more likely to vote,” Wang said.
Aguilar, who had launched a sports technology company before he was elected in 2022, loved the idea of combining the sports and the voting worlds together. He reached out to the Raiders executive team about using the stadium as a polling location, and they asked to talk about it after Super Bowl Sunday.
“That’s their main priority, making sure the Super Bowl is as great as it can be, because we want to be future hosts,” he said.
Down the road, Aguilar would also like to see other sporting venues be used as voting sites, such as a future A’s stadium and the paddocks for Formula 1.
Many people in Las Vegas don’t have an understanding of what F1 is, Aguilar said. If the paddocks were used as polling locations, Nevadans could see something that isn’t always accessible, Aguilar said.
The plan could also be extended to “any place of curiosity” that could motivate a voter to participate in an election, such as the Sphere, he said.