We almost certainly won’t know who won some races on election night, so don’t freak out

By: - November 7, 2022 5:21 am

Polling place equipment and materials being processed at the Clark County Election Department on November 5, 2020, two days after Election Day. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Though Election Day is Tuesday, election officials say it will take some time before Nevadans learn final results or find out who won and who lost some close races.

“It’s certainly not going to be final on election night, but we will keep the general public informed every day that we get results in, and by the end of the day we will have new reports available until we’re through with the counting,” said Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria. 

In-person voting will be concluded Tuesday, but Gloria said mail-in ballots can be accepted “until the Saturday after the election as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 8.”

“I would not recommend anybody, if they are involved in a close race, to say they think they’ve won or that they haven’t won,” he said.

With the upcoming election determining if Democrats maintain control of the House and the Senate, eyes are on Nevada to see if four congressional Democratic incumbents — three in the House and one in the Senate — will retain their seats.

In addition to the races for federal offices, polls have indicated that multiple races, including the contest for governor and down-ballot races such as secretary of state, could be decided by razor thin margins. 

So what happens on election day and beyond?

By state law, even though polls are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, they must stay open as long as people are still in line to vote. Once polls are closed in all 17 counties, Gloria said the county will release a report “that will contain all of the results from early voting, minus provisional votes, and all of the mail we’ve read through tabulation up to that day.”

“After that, we will slowly release reports from election day in-person sites minus the provisional ballots,” he said, but added it “certainly won’t be the final report.” 

Jennifer Russell, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said by Tuesday evening the office will have early voting and in-person voting results, but more results will come in the days following. 

“We will also have some mail ballot results,” she said in an email. “Since the counties have until Nov. 12 to receive mail ballots and until Nov. 14 to conduct signature cures, we do not expect unofficial results until a few days following the election.”

In the cure process, Gloria said people will be notified if their signatures don’t match and have until the end of the day Nov. 14 to fix their ballots

“When that’s finally done, we send our report to the secretary of state on who we have marked as voted, and they have to compare that to the other 16 counties to make sure nobody has done anything illegal by voting in two-separate counties,” he said. 

Afterward, the county moves on to counting provisional votes.

The final election canvas is Nov. 18.  

During the 2020 presidential election, many candidates, including former President Donald Trump, tried to claim victory even as results were tallied.

Nevada didn’t finalize election results for several days after the 2020 election, and didn’t confirm President Joe Biden’s victory in the state until Saturday. Biden beat Trump by 33,000 votes in Nevada.

With mail in ballots taking longer to count amid a raging pandemic, results took longer than expected in 2020.

Conspiracy theories mounted in the meantime.  

While ballots were still being counted, Republican Adam Laxalt, the then co-chair for the Trump campaign in Nevada who is now running to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, filed a lawsuit with the Trump campaign seeking to stop the count. 

Laxalt made baseless allegations of “improper votes” and voter irregularities. 

Following the 2020 election, other Republican candidates also alleged, without evidence, ballot discrepancies.

Several of them are on the ballot in 2022. 

Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, an election denier who lost to U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford in 2020, and Republican congressional candidate April Becker, who’s running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Susie Lee after losing a state senate seat in 2020, filed lawsuits challenging election results.

But they lost. 

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.