Nevada primary: Long lines, tech issues caused vote counting delays

Voters wait in the sun to enter for the Nevada primary election taking place at Veterans Memori ...

While nowhere near the meme-inducing delays Nevada saw in 2020, there was a palpable lag for those hitting the refresh button as they waited for the state’s 2022 primary election results Tuesday night.

Some counties’ results started to roll in late Tuesday night and showed up on their respective websites or dashboards around around 9:30 p.m. But the Nevada secretary of state’s election results page remained sparse for much of the night.

Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Mark Wlaschin said Wednesday that there were a handful of factors that contributed to delays, including new election staff workers at the state and county levels.

“Recognizing that there are a lot of new clerks, and a lot new staff in county offices, we wanted to make sure we were accurate more than we were speedy,” Wlaschin said.

He also pointed to the state’s planned move to a top-down, state-led voter registration system in the coming years as something that will also help smooth out some of those rough edges.

Nevada is one of just a handful of states in the U.S. that uses a bottom-up voter registration system where counties maintain their own voter lists and then send that data to the secretary of state’s office daily. Moving to top-down system where the state manages the voter lists was approved as a way to increase efficiency and consistency when it comes to maintaining the voter rolls as well as with the state’s same-day voter registration.

The law passed in 2021 to make that transition requires that switch to be completed by January of 2024, and Wlaschin said the office is pushing to make sure that’s ready before that year’s presidential elections.

“Every election official is hungry for top-down system like nothing else. We know that’s going to be a huge help,” he said.

Lessons learned

Wlaschin said he expects the experience gained by the newer election workers in the primary will allow them to be more efficient and comfortable with the process when the general election rolls around this November.

Despite Nevada now having universal mail-in ballots and two weeks of early voting, plenty of Nevadans — nearly 100,000, in fact — still chose to cast their ballot in-person on Election Day this primary. That led to some lengthy lines at a handful of polling places across the state which also delayed when initial vote tallies could even be released to the public.

Polls closed Tuesday night in Nevada at 7 p.m., but anyone in line to vote by that time is allowed to cast their ballot no matter how long that takes. Election results can’t be released until the final vote in the state has been cast. Under the new law passed in 2021 that moved Nevada to permanent universal mail-in ballot voting, counties can start counting mail ballots received up to 15 days before the election.

Last voter standing

In Clark County, the final voters finished around 8:30 p.m., said county spokesman Dan Kulin. And in Incline Village, the final voter didn’t cast their ballot until shortly before 9 p.m., said Washoe County Communications Manager Bethany Drysdale.

Drysdale said Washoe also had some technical issues in uploading the vote tallies to the county’s website, which delayed the posting of their results online by about an hour.

As for the final vote tallies for Nevada’s 2022 primaries, those won’t come for several days at least since state law allows mail ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday and received before 5 p.m. Saturday to still be counted.

Drysdale said Washoe received about 6,000 ballots in the mail on Wednesday, but added that there’s no way of knowing how many more will come in before that deadline.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.