Clark, Washoe election departments pelted with records requests by election deniers

Officials say requests have overburdened staff. And that might be the point.

By: - October 26, 2022 6:31 am

The Clark County Election Department building in North Las Vegas, where ballots are processed and counted, has been remodeled with glass panels throughout the entire counting board where observers can sit and watch every step of the process. “We don’t have anything to hide,” Joe Gloria said. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)

Election clerks in Nevada’s two most populous counties have been flooded with public records requests seeking evidence of election fraud and demanding confidential information on voters and poll workers, adding chaos to important work preparing the November election. 

The requests in Nevada emulate similar demands for information in states and counties nationwide by Trump supporters, prompting some officials to suspect a deliberate effort to make the process look chaotic and create new lines of attack against the election process. 

The surge of requests for time-consuming reports on data has overwhelmed staff that oversee elections in Clark and Washoe counties, said state election officials.

In response, officials in both Clark and Washoe counties say they have temporarily halted fulfilling some records requests to ensure staff can focus on administering the vote.

“They have been overburdening our staff with requests. We have done our best to respond and in some cases indicated to those who requested information that we wouldn’t be able to help them until after the election,” said Joseph Gloria, Clark County’s top election official. “There is a lot of work that goes into preparing for voting.”

But the nonstop records requests may be “the new ordinary,” according to state election officials. 

In Clark County, election clerks have been bombarded with cut-and-paste records requests, said Gloria. His office has received identical emails from different sources asking for an obscure document generated by ballot-counting machines, called a “cast vote record.”

Election deniers have recently expressed belief that the technical document can be used to detect fraudulent voting patterns.  However, a cast vote record is essentially a receipt of everything the tabulator machine scanned, displayed as a spreadsheet of ones and zeros. Experts say the data can’t be used to detect discrepancies, nor is it particularly useful to people who aren’t researchers or auditors.

The Nevada secretary of state office also reported receiving numerous identical requests for “cast votes records” in September.

Election clerks in both Clark and Washoe counties have received requests for personal information of poll workers for the 2022 election, including names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and party affiliation. 

“Lots of requests like that, over, and over,” Gloria said, adding that he’s never seen records requests at this volume during his 30 year career. “More than 100% more than what we used to receive, easily.”

One such request was made by the Republican National Committee who asked for the full name, title and party affiliation of all poll workers hired for the general election in Clark County, which was rejected by election officials over safety concerns. The county is now facing a lawsuit from the RNC over the request. 

“We want to protect the privacy of our workers and make sure they’re not being intimidated prior to coming out for work,” Gloria said. “The protection of our workers is very serious for us.”

Other requests asked the county to share documents already publicly available, like digital ballot images and voter lists, which are posted online. Gloria said his office has tried to improve transparency by making more election data available to the public, but that strategy has done little to quell the tidal wave of records requests.

Election officials in Washoe County have likewise “seen a large spike in public records requests,” many of them “extremely lengthy and time-consuming” to fulfill, said Bethany Drysdale, a spokesperson for the office of the county manager in Washoe County.

In the months leading to the election, Washoe County rejected numerous identical records requests seeking poll workers’ personal information, including phone numbers and addresses. The county also received identical requests for cast vote record data.

In another lengthy request, the county was asked to provide detailed information about their remodeled office, including room measurements and distance from the observation room.

The Washoe County Registrar of Voters Department has received 1,600 public record requests since January, surpassing the 1,300 records requests made the previous year. There is a clear upward trajectory in the number of records requests since 2020, “the beginning of all this,” Drysdale said.

“We will need to refine and streamline the process on our end so it’s not taking up so much of our time to respond to these requests because I think this will remain the norm,” Drysdale said.

But records requests are not the only way Trump supporters have overwhelmed county clerk offices and interrupted election security and administration in Nevada.

In August, Gloria told the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee that a single individual could be responsible for up to four bad-faith reports a day, which his office was then required to review and respond to. Gloria said the additional work “takes up a large portion” of his staff’s time.

“We talked to these people and tried to understand their concerns. We didn’t get good answers other than to say that they knew we were doing something illegal. We detailed to them exactly what the process was for handling drop off boxes and so forth. But it didn’t matter what explanation we had,” Gloria told senators.

In his letter to the Senate, Gloria also said his office has struggled to recruit and retain voting administrators and other staff. Election workers in Clark County have already endured an onslaught of threats and intimidation, from “inappropriate phone calls and emails” to fears they would be followed home. 

“After two or three days some new hires simply get overwhelmed with the level of contention,” Gloria wrote.

Despite challenges, Gloria said he’s committed to making it easier for the general public to observe the ballot counting process. The Election Department building is set up in a large warehouse in North Las Vegas and has undergone reconstruction since the 2020 general election, and now has glass panels throughout the entire counting board where observers can sit and watch every step of the process.

“We don’t have anything to hide,” Gloria said. “We want them to be able to see everything that’s going on.”

Elections always pose logistical and technological challenges, said Gloria. However, there are a growing number of troubles beyond election officials’ control. 

“One thing that does concern me is the behavior of observers at the polls,” Gloria said. “It’s very difficult for us to keep the flow of voters going out at our polls if we have observers who are constantly asking for information.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

MORE FROM AUTHOR