Nye County’s decision to switch to paper ballots and utilize a hand count in the 2022 election cycle captured the country’s attention, grabbing national headlines and even prompting legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union in an attempt to stop the move.
Despite the pushback and a two-week delay caused by the ACLU lawsuit, Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf said the new process devised for 2022 was a successful one and his office will now be analyzing its options for the 2024 election.
“Just as a reminder to those who don’t believe it, the tabulation was the primary method of determining our election results. Let me repeat that. We used the Dominion tabulators to calculate our election results, no different than we have in the past,” Kampf explained for the public at the Nye County Commission’s Jan. 18 meeting.
The big difference when it came to calculating results for 2022, Kampf said, was the inclusion of a hand count. In addition to counting the ballots with electronic equipment, a force of more than 200 volunteers offered their time and energy to tally all of the votes marked on the paper ballots by hand, the results of which were then balanced against those derived from the Dominion tabulation.
In the end, Kampf remarked, it appeared that the hand count was marginally more accurate.
“We were 99.89% accurate compared to the tabulation process and the differences were largely due to the 5% sensitivity that the tabulators use to identify a vote. A vote is any visible mark within the oval. Our hand count process found votes that the tabulator did not pick up and found over-votes that the tabulator did not pick up,” Kampf asserted. “So we were really 100% accurate. It was the tabulation process that produced inaccuracies.”
Kampf noted that the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office is aware of the discrepancy.
As for the use of paper ballots rather than electronic ones, there was plenty of skepticism expressed regarding the county’s ability to count those ballots in a timely manner, regardless of the means used to count them. Some predicted that the results of the election would not be available for many days following the 2022 general election.
That doubt notwithstanding, Kampf said his office was in fact able to electronically tabulate 90% of the paper ballots by midnight on election night and all the tabulated results were reported to the Nevada secretary of state on schedule.
“There were really no delays as a result of the paper ballots,” Kampf said. “We were the seventh (county in Nevada) to get our final official results in, even with that paper ballot process.”
Though just one month into the new year, Kampf and his team are already casting their eyes on the next election in 2024, which, as a presidential election year, is expected to see a big turnout.
In addition to the primary in June and the general in November, the state of Nevada will be using a Presidential Preference Primary for the first time in February 2024.
“We need to evaluate whether we want to do a full hand count, a full parallel process, some hybrid or look at some alternative vote verification systems, which I am doing research every single day as I push this forward, to research alternatives that give us the same effect as doing a full hand count. There are a lot of ways that we can do this and continue to restore voter confidence,” Kampf said.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org