Mailing it in proves more convenient for voters than for vote counters
“The dynamic is changing with the introduction of mail,” said Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria during an Election Night press conference. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)
Long lines, short staffing and Nevada’s ongoing learning curve with universal mail-in voting combined to assure that voters will once again have to wait to find out who they elected.
County officials in Nevada’s two most populous counties announced that mail ballots dropped off Tuesday would not be counted on election night—and may take several days to process— leaving major statewide races in limbo.
“Tonight we’re going to release all the mail we counted up to this point, all of the early voting results, and all the Election Day results that come in minus provisionals,” said Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria, the top election official in the county, during a press conference Tuesday night.
However, he emphasized that votes in Clark County also include far-flung rural communities like Sandy Valley, Laughlin, and Mesquite.
“It’s a big county,” Gloria said.
This year marked the second election in Nevada’s history where paper ballots were mailed to every active registered voter, and the first not conducted during the height of a pandemic. While the state’s move increased voting access, the addition of mailed ballots also increased the number of people needed to get those votes counted. Election officials indicated they may not have enough staff to count all mail ballots dropped off on Election Day in Clark County before Thursday, Nov. 10.
Additionally, per Nevada state law, mail ballots that were postmarked on Election Day have until Saturday, Nov. 12 to be received and counted by counties, and ballots with signature verification issues have until Monday, Nov. 14 to be cured and counted.
“The dynamic is changing with the introduction of mail. I can tell you that the Election Day turnout for this election is going to be higher than in the 2020 general, so it’s very hard to predict,” Gloria said.
Most polls in Clark County, where nearly three in four of the state’s active voters reside, closed by 7 p.m. Tuesday but long lines across the valley delayed vote processing by about two hours.
In person voting on Election Day brought in hundreds of thousands of new votes. By 6 p.m., 125,000 people had voted at in person voting locations in Clark County.
“It’s been a challenging day. The weather did not help but we never stopped processing voters,” Gloria said, referring to heavy rain and wind that swept the Las Vegas Valley Tuesday.
About 300 employees worked on mail ballot processing on Election Day, but by Tuesday night only 50 to 60 employees were present to process dropbox ballots and votes stored on numerous removable voting machine election results memory cartridges.
Election observers in Clark County during the midterm election were comparable to the number of observers during the 2020 presidential election, said Gloria. He reported some issues with observers at polling locations, but noted that all incidents were handled properly.
“In some cases we had to call law enforcement to come out,” Gloria said. “We also had some electioneering issues we had to report to the secretary of state and had to take action to have them removed.”
Several statewide candidates released statements late Tuesday night after county officials announced they would not have results on highly contested statewide races that night.
“Well, we knew it was going to be a close election… and that’s exactly what we got!” said Gov. Steve Sisolak at an election night gathering. “Hang in there everybody. Be patient. We need to make sure every single vote is counted.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto matched Sisolak’s sentiments Tuesday night.
“The votes are still being counted. We know this will take time and we won’t have more election results for several days,” she said.
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