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Nye County to rely on voting machines in 2022 election, hand-count ballots after

Updated September 21, 2022 - 8:07 am

Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf expects that with the new hand-counting and paper ballot process, preliminary election results for the Nov. 8 general election will come in around 10 p.m. on election night, and after volunteers hand count every ballot, official election results will come in between Nov. 10 and Nov. 14, he told the Nye County Commission on Tuesday.

In March, the Nye County Commission voted 5-0 to administer the election using only paper ballots and hand-counting the paper ballots, becoming one of the first jurisdictions nationwide to act on election conspiracies related to mistrust in voting machines.

Esmeralda County, which is Nevada’s least populous county, also moved toward hand-counting and paper ballots. During the June 2022 primary, it hand-counted ballots, spending more than seven hours to count 317 ballots.

Since the fall of 2021, seven of Nevada’s 17 counties have considered either switching away from the Dominion electronic voting machines, which have been a target of election deniers following the 2020 election, claiming that the machines malfunction or are easily hacked or inaccurate, or eliminating electronic voting systems completely.

Kampf, who the commission appointed in August and has repeated false claims that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, outlined a plan for how the election process will work in November. The plans still include using voting machines.

Dominion tabulators will be the primary method for determining the election results, Kampf told the commissioners Tuesday. There will be a parallel hand count process after the tabulator calculates the machines.

In batches of 50 separated by precinct, the ballots will go to a tally team of three people who each take turns counting the batch as a reader reads aloud the results. Each talliers’ votes must match, and a verifier will also verify each of the tallier’s vote counts. The votes will be put on a tally sheet and then there will be a precinct batch total.

With about 32,855 active voters in Nye County, Kampf estimated that if there are 26,000 votes at 80% voter turnout in November, there will be 520 batches at 50 ballots per batch. In a worst case scenario, a minimum of eight teams could count five batches per day, totaling 40 batches a day.

Kampf said he already has 57 volunteers to help with the hand-counting. Of those, Democrats make up 20%, which is the same representation of registered voters in the county, Kampf said. About 12% of the volunteers are nonpartisan, which represents about 35% of the voter registration in the county.

“We’re working to increase the number of participants that are not Republican. That is our largest group of individuals who have volunteered, but it really makes me feel great that we’ve had that many citizens step up and say, ‘we want to be part of the process and are willing to work,’” Kampf said.

Kampf has been reaching out to Democratic and independent groups encouraging their members to participate in the process.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office has been working with Kampf throughout the planning process.

In August, the secretary of state’s office approved a temporary regulation on hand-count paper ballots, and since then the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) filed a lawsuit challenging the guidance.

While the voting machines will remain in use in 2022, Nye County is considering alternative solutions for future elections, in hopes that they can do away completely with the machines, said Commissioner Chair Frank Carbone during the meeting.

Besides changes to how the votes are counted, other aspects of the election process will be different. Mail-ballots will be the same as previous elections, and identical paper ballots will be completed by the voter at the polls, Kampf said. There will be touch screens for people with special needs to use.

Voters will sign a signature card as well as a signature screen so the clerk’s office can maintain more up-to-date signatures, Kampf said. If a signature or verification fails, the staff will require identification.

There will also be no prompting of voter verification through addresses. Instead of asking voters if they live at a certain address, they will ask what address the voter resides in, Kampf said.

There will be a video camera live-streaming the hand count to ensure transparency, which “will allow everyone to be a poll watcher,” Kampf said.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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