Election Day is among the most sacred on the American Calendar. It is a time when every citizen, regardless of background or political affiliation, can make their voices heard. The old adage is that “every vote counts.” But shouldn’t every vote be counted on time?
In 2020, Nevada drew national attention when election officials announced that they would cease updating the public on the status of election results for almost two days as they paused the tabulation of ballots. This added fuel to the fire of an already contentious and heated presidential race that left the nation embroiled in disagreement.
Even more concerning is the fact that in the 2020 election, the state continued to accept mail in ballots until Nov. 10, a full week after election day. The problem is more than the fact that votes were not counted in a timely manner, but that votes continued to be accepted after election day when results had already begun to come in.
While the votes were eventually counted, there were many who claimed that the election lacked transparency or had opened the door to fraud as the counting period stretched far beyond election day. This, together with other national concerns over election integrity, was an essential reminder of the importance of election integrity.
Ideally, losing candidates would never have reason to suggest fraud or question the integrity of elections. An integral aspect of ensuring the perception of fair and honest elections is seeing that that every vote is counted on election day.
Allowing the count to stretch far beyond election day not only undermines the security of our elections but also the national opinion of how our state operates. We need to make sure that every Nevadan’s voice is heard on Election Day, not a week or a month afterward. If this isn’t the case more personnel and resources should be allocated to the effort.
This issue is especially egregious when you consider the fact that Nevada allows for mail-in ballot counting to begin before election day. We have the ability to prevent this issue from occurring and yet, as we saw in 2020, late counts continue to be a problem.
In Nevada, every ballot postmarked up through election day is counted, but voters have almost a full week to “cure” – properly sign and/or complete ballot documentation – if they failed to do so initially. This large window creates tremendous opportunity for criticism as the chance for election interference arises.
States like Florida require all their mail in ballots to be counted by 8:30 p,m, on election night. Mississippi and Missouri finish their counts by Wednesday noon at the latest. Voting technology and standards continue to advance, yet Nevada lags behind the rest of the nation with inefficient practices.
It is important to keep in mind that in Nevada, every citizen is automatically mailed a ballot and, thanks to a statute passed in 2021, there is even the possibility of remote digital voting. The landscape of voting is changing in considerable ways and it’s up to us to make sure that our procedures are straightforward and above reproach.