Officials with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office detailed that more than 6,700 ballots cast statewide in the 2020 primary election were rejected because of signature issues, either a lack of signature or a signature that did not match the voter information on file.
In addition, more than 252,000 ballots that were mailed to registered voters throughout the state were never delivered to those voters and were returned to the various county clerks’ offices as undeliverable.
In Nye County, those totals were far lower, with just 24 ballots rejected because of a signature problem and roughly 3,000 ballots returned as undeliverable.
Nye County Clerk Sam Merlino explained common reasons for ballots being returned to her office as undeliverable, highlighting the need for voters to ensure their voter registration information is updated on a regular basis.
“There were close to 3,000 ballot returned undeliverable. There were some who had P.O. boxes on their registration but had closed their boxes, forgetting to update their registration. There were some who just forgot to update the address we have on file so they were returned undeliverable,” Merlino told the Pahrump Valley Times. “There was a good portion of them who had moved since the last election and the post office gave us forwarding addresses on many so we have already starting sending them letters to cancel their registrations. In some cases, ballots were thrown away because voters didn’t realize what they were. Those are most of the issues we dealt with.”
On the ballots that were rejected because of the signature or lack thereof, Merlino stated, “We had 99 ballots without signatures or signatures that didn’t match. All but 24 were ‘cured’ by the clerk’s office sending letters to those voters and the voters returning an affidavit and copy of ID. We had very few of the 99 that were rejected because the signature didn’t match. A good portion were family members who had signed each other’s ballots. There were a few that the signature just didn’t look like the signature on the voter registration we had on file.”
For the state as a whole, the number of ballots originally rejected was 12,366 but as with those in Nye County, many were able to be “cured”. Nevada Secretary of State Deputy Secretary Wayne Thorley told the Pahrump Valley Times that 5,617 ballots were successfully cured, leaving 6,749 ballots as rejected, and therefore uncounted, in the primary election.
Looking toward the future and the 2020 general election, the Times asked Merlino and Thorley if there had been any discussions as of yet regarding how the general election will be conducted and whether it was possible the general would be conducted with an all mail-in ballot system as the primary election was.
Both said the plan today is to proceed with a normal election in November, although voters can of course still request an absentee ballot if they prefer not to go to the polls.
“We plan to conduct an in-person election in November,” Merlino stated. “There could always be another emergency but the plan now is to have precautions in place to prevent the spread of the virus. We may have really long lines but I truly hope we will be over the worst of this by then.”
Thorley concurred with that information, stating, “The plan for the general election is to conduct the election as usually, meaning any registered voter can request to vote by mail but otherwise voters will vote in person. One caveat is the governor has announced he will call the Nevada Legislature into a special session on July 8 to address the state’s budget shortfall. It is possible the Legislature may pass legislation that will change how the November general election will be conducted.”
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org