Clark County to buy new machines to count mail-in ballots
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Clark County Commission has agreed to spend nearly $1 million to buy four high-speed counting machines to tabulate mail-in ballots for the upcoming primary and general elections.
The move comes after the Legislature made permanent last summer a law that automatically sends mail ballots to every active registered voter in Nevada elections.
More voters cast their ballots by mail in the 2020 election than any other way in both Clark County and statewide.
About 46.5% of Clark County voters cast their ballots by mail in 2020 — a total of 453,248, Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said.
About 42% voted during the two weeks of early voting (411,747) and only about 11% voted in person on Election Day — a total of 109,190. About 49,000 ballots were cast by mail in 2018, up from 22,339 in 2014.
Gloria told the commissioners on Tuesday that the county had applied for a grant to purchase the counting machines, but that a decision wouldn’t come in time for officials to buy them, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The commission voted unanimously to provide $950,000 in county funds instead, with the understanding that money will be reimbursed by any grant money the county eventually receives.
Nevada was one of four states that decided to mail all active voters ballots in 2020 amid the pandemic.
Democratic lawmakers said during debate last spring on a bill that would make the practice permanent that the high turnout in the last election suggested mail-in ballots expanded access. Republicans argued the process had eroded trust in elections and that new safeguards were necessary.
The bill Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law in June includes measures to improve Nevada’s voter roll maintenance and signature verification procedures.
It requires vote counters complete a forensic signature verification course. It also directs election officials to compare their list of registered voters to Nevada’s Registrar of Vital Statistics on a monthly basis to purge dead people from voter rolls.
Gloria told the Clark County commissioners on Tuesday that there will be 110 early voting sites in the county during the general election, and 105 in the primary.
Sites are distributed around the county based on the percentage of registered voters, in locations such as malls, grocery stores, voting tents in large parking lots and community centers. During the general election, early voting will also be conducted on college campuses, Gloria said.