A new law that sent ballots to all registered voters because of the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the slow pace of election results in Nevada, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state said Friday.
Nevada has historically favored in-person voting, said the spokeswoman, Jennifer Russell. In the 2016 election, only 6% of voters cast mail-in ballots, according to state data. This year, however, at least 46% of voters voted using mail ballots, according to data put out by the state on Friday. Only 10% of the ballots so far emerged from Election Day turnout. The rest were cast in-person, but early. Those breakdowns are likely to change as ballots postmarked Election Day continue to arrive and be processed.
All this means a lot of paper for the state’s first crack at the new system, with every mail-in ballot requiring a meticulous review and tabulation process. In Clark County, home to Las Vegas and 90% of the state’s currently uncounted 124,500 votes, the process includes a digital scan, signature verification, and reviews by bipartisan pairs of election officials of ballots with legibility or other issues.
Mail-in ballots are cross-checked with other counties and even other states to ensure no vote is counted twice. Dealing with a barrage of lawsuits from the Trump campaign has also taken up time for county officials.
“It’s more complicated than sitting here and saying tick for Joe, tick for Trump. It’s a complicated process and it’s one that we’ve never had to do at this volume before,” said Annette Magnus, the executive director of the progressive communications group Battle Born Progress, which advocated for the mail-in voting law, AB4, that passed last summer. The county’s registrar, Joe Gloria, has stressed that the department’s goal is to count accurately, not quickly. — Sarah Holder and Laura Bliss