How Will The Election Go Down In Clark County?
News about the general election is inescapable, especially regarding how it might play out with COVID-19 still on the rampage.
Earlier this month, the State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 4, which mandates that ballots be mailed to every registered voter, ensuring those worried about exposure to COVID-19 can vote safely from their homes.
President Donald Trump, who is against widespread mail-in voting, sued the state a day later, and the state in return filed a motion for dismissal.
Assuming the legislation stands, how will November’s election look to voters in Clark County?
Joe Gloria is the registrar of voters, which oversees the operation of election services for the county.
“I think the voters are getting what we need… we now have the ability to send all active voters a mail ballot, which ensures that they will have a method to cast their ballot at home, in the safety of their home, without any risk of mixing with large groups of people and promoting the spread of coronavirus,” Gloria told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Gloria is expecting a record turnout for the November election. He said voters are engaged and interested.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see an 85 percent turnout for the general election. That’s what we’re preparing for. We’re going to prepare for the worst,” he said.
His office is expanding in-person voting sites and looking for volunteers to work the polls on Election Day. Gloria said the election office is implementing safety measures to makes sure workers and voters are safe.
“We’ll have PPE available for workers and voters. We’re going to encourage voters to social distance. We’ve got plenty of supplies to keep our voting machines screens and our plexiglass stands at our sign-in booths clean throughout the day,” he said.
Poll workers will be encouraging those who vote in-person to wear a mask and will give them to people who aren't wearing one.
“We’ve been living in this environment for some time now and we’re hoping people will be responsible and conscious of their neighbor and make sure that they’re helping us to create a safe environment,” Gloria said.
While some people are concerned about the safety of in-person voting, President Trump's argument against mail-in ballots is it will increase the chance of fraud. However, election experts say voter fraud is extremely rare.
Gloria agreed. He supports Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske's testimony before the Legislature on the issue. She told lawmakers that she was unaware of any voter fraud from mail-in ballots in Nevada.
“Mail ballots, although we’re sending out a larger number than we’ve ever sent before - the process that we use to uphold the integrity of the election has been in place for many years in Clark County," Gloria said. "So, there is really no reason to believe that the increase in mail usage here is going to increase the possibility of fraud on elections.”
Gloria also said Nevada is known for being a state committed to improving opportunities to vote and keeping politics out of the election process. He noted Nevada was one of the first states to aggressively pursue early voting. It has also expanded mail-in balloting even before the pandemic.
“I think Nevada should be proud of our process and we’ve demonstrated that we support elections well here and we hope to continue to do so,” he said.
Gloria is also not concerned about whether the Postal Service will be up to the task of handling all of the mail-in ballots this November. His office has worked with the regional Postal Service managers for years and is currently coordinating with them ahead of the General Election.
“We don’t have any reason to believe they won’t be able to handle the volume," he said, "People seem to think that because we send a mail-in ballot that that [is] a strain on what they do, but I think they handled it relatively well in the primary, and we expect them to do the same in the general.”
If the president's lawsuit is successful, those who want to vote by mail would need to apply for mail-in ballots.
Gloria added that if mail-in balloting becomes limited in Nevada, people may have to decide for themselves their level of risk for in-person voting and plan accordingly to ask for a mail-in ballot.
“I think in Clark County and the state of Nevada, with what the Legislature did, we’ve done absolutely everything we can to make sure all voters will be enfranchised for the General Election,” he said.
Other concerns that have been raised by the plan to send out more mail-in balloting include out-of-date signatures and wrong addresses because of an expected rise in evictions.
Gloria said both of those problems can be addressed by contacting his office. He said voters who have dramatically changed their signatures can resubmit a signature.
However, he pointed out that someone using his or her full name instead of a shortened version won't stop his or her ballot from being counted.
“That doesn’t prevent that from being processed and counted. We’re looking more at the style and slant and more variables in the signature to see if it matches,” he said.
As for the address issue, Gloria said voters can always submit a change of address form to his office.
The first mail-in ballots to people living overseas will go out at least 45 before the election. Nevadans living out of state will get theirs at least 40 days before and in-state balloting will go out at least 20 days before Election Day.
But Gloria said the vendor his office used during the Primary Election got the ballots out earlier than the deadline, and if everything goes as planned, that will likely happen this time as well, which means people could start getting their ballots in early October.
Usually, on Election Night, results start rolling in from early voting and absentee balloting with an hour or two. Gloria says those first results are always unofficial.
This year, because of the expected influx of mail-in ballots, he cannot say if anyone will be able to call the election that night but he does say everything will be certified on time.
“We can guarantee you by canvas date, which will be November 16, we’ll have completed our count and all of our audits and we’ll be prepared to put out final official results,” he said.
Joe Gloria, registrar of voters, Clark County