As Election Day nears, some important reminders

sorting ballots
Workers at the Washoe County Registrar of Voters have already begun counting ballots. The process is being live-streamed online. (Screengrab via YouTube)

You now need only one hand to count down to Election Day 2020.

It’s that close.

But don’t get too excited. As is the case with so many aspects of our lives, Election Day is going to look a little different this year. Election officials, pols and independent watchdogs alike have been warning people for months now that we may not know the outcome of the presidential races on Election Day.

But that isn’t grounds for panic.

“It might be better to think of it as Election Week or Election Month,” Joshua Graham Lynn of the nonpartisan nonprofit RepresentUs told the Current back in September.

That’s because the massive shift to mail-in ballots means the processes being used by election officials will take longer. The Constitution empowers states to decide how elections are run, which means processes differ. Some states require ballots to be received by the local election office on or before Election Day. Other states allow for ballots to be received by local election offices after Election Day so long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Similarly, some states allow local election officials to begin processing ballots before Election Day. Other states do not allow any processing to begin until Election Day.

Some key swing states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, have rules that will lead to slower results.

Here in Nevada, ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and can be received and accepted up to seven days after. Nevada also allows ballot processing to begin prior to Election Day. (Normally it’s four days prior but the window was extended to 15 days by the state legislature.)

Pols and talking heads will offer their best guesses for how all these moving parts should fit, but the only certain thing is that nobody knows for sure.

Here are some other things to keep in mind.

There could be lines on Election Day.

While half of all active registered voters in Nevada have already voted using their mail ballot or during early voting, that still leaves a lot of voters who could potentially cause lines to form on Election Day. Officials suggest people be prepared for a wait. Give yourself time. Bring a snack.

That said, don’t be dissuaded from going to vote. There may not be a wait!

Remember: Anyone standing in line by 7 p.m. is allowed to vote.

You can still use your mail ballot.

Each vote center in Clark County includes a mail ballot dropbox. Voters have until 7 pm on Election Day to place their ballot into a dropbox, and you do not have to wait in line to access these dropboxes. You can deliver the ballot yourself or give it to someone else to dropoff for you. (Just make sure you trust them.)

When to expect results.

Election officials expect to begin releasing results shortly after the last vote is cast. (When that is, of course, depends on whether there are long lines.) Initial results should include early vote totals and totals from the mail ballots received by that point.

Because mail ballots postmarked by Election Day can be received up to seven days later, mail-ballot totals will be updated each morning, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. All votes will be counted by November 12.

The official results website is SilverStateElection.NV.gov

Voter protection and integrity measures are in place.

Election Protection Hotline

The Election Protection Hotline is a national, nonpartisan coalition focused on protecting voter rights. Its local partners — the Let Nevadans Vote coalition — include the ACLU of Nevada, Silver State Voices and the Institute for a Progressive Nevada. Nevadans are encouraged to report voting problems to the hotline. The coalition will monitor the hotline and send nonpartisan observers to in-person polling places in Clark and Washoe counties.

1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682 en Español)

1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683 Asian multilingual assistance)

1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287 Arabic)

Voters should also alert poll workers if they see voter intimidation underway. They can also reach out to their county election office.

There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Nevada or anywhere. Likewise, there have been no reports of voter intimidation during early voting so far. However, Attorney General Aaron Ford says he and other state officials are prepared for a number of scenarios on Election Day.

“We will not let anyone interfere with the integrity of our elections,” he said during a conference call on election safety earlier this week.

He added, “I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.”

Nevada has an Election Integrity Taskforce, which was created more than a decade ago. The taskforce includes the secretary of state, attorney general and state and federal officers.

The U.S. Justice Department also has a nationwide Election Day Program, which includes an official District Election Officer for Nevada. In conjunction with the taskforce, he is responsible for overseeing complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns.

Finally, there are nonpartisan election integrity groups who will be monitoring a hotline where people can report voter intimidation.

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.