By Kerry Durmick

may 10, 2024

It may surprise many that, over the years, Nevada has become one of the most pro-voter states in the country. Since 2019, Nevadans have advocated for and achieved greater access to the ballot for many communities, including voters with disabilities, Native voters, voters who speak a language other than English, previously incarcerated voters, and all Nevadans who now can access automatic mail-in voting. 

This progress has not been easily won, and some who have not been happy with it are hoping to reverse it to make voting more difficult for some voters. Due to this, we have seen a rise in election denialism throughout the state, which has led to some election officials putting forward anti-voter resolutions and policies.

For instance, the push to conduct 100% hand counts is a tactic that is being used by election deniers in several states, including Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, California, Florida and Texas. In Nevada, two members of the Washoe County Board of Commissioners are election deniers and have attempted to put forward resolutions that would implement 100% hand counting, paper ballots, and even a process that would cancel a voter’s registration after five years. The resolutions have been blocked by Commissioner Chair Alexis Hill, keeping these regressive policies just one vote away from being passed. 

Several other counties across Nevada are considering hand counts: Elko County Board of Commissioners, the fifth-largest county in Nevada, is considering a parallel hand count for the 2024 General Election and the Esmeralda Board of Commissioners is pressuring Linda Eglan, the Esmeralda County Clerk, to include a parallel hand count for the 2024 General election. 

100% hand counts go against election administration best practices, yet election deniers seek to use this counting method to delay and disrupt elections under the guise of election integrity and transparency. Time and again, ballot tabulation machines have proven effective and accurate, while the pitfalls of hand counting have threatened to disenfranchise Nevada voters. An example of this was seen in the 2022 primary election – due to a parallel hand count process, Esmeralda County almost missed the certification deadline

100% hand counts impose unnecessary risks for voters and create burdens that fall on taxpayers. The process is inefficient regarding time and vote counter capacity and extremely costly for taxpayers. Unfortunately, the Esmeralda County Board of Commissioners, among others, still seeks to use this counting method, with no evidence supporting that it benefits voters.

Fortunately, there are hopeful examples where the push to use 100% hand counting has been blocked. Nye County will no longer use hand counting following former County Clerk Mark Kampf’s resignation. However, the Nye County Board of Commissioners still demands that all paper ballots be used in all elections and that only one voting machine per polling place be allowed. 

We know that election deniers will use every tactic they can to make voting more difficult and challenge democracy in as many ways as possible. Still, they will be challenged and blocked at every turn because our elections are, and must continue to be, free and fair for all voters.

As we’ve seen, in the wake of the incredible progress made for Nevada voters, Nevada is seeing an intense and extreme anti-voter pushback. If successful, these anti-voter changes have and will disenfranchise voters across the state. As the saying goes, Democracy is not a spectator sport. In 2024, Nevada will either continue as a pro-voter state or be pushed backward. Nevadans must meet with their local election departments, attend local county commission meetings, and make their voices heard on how they want elections to run in their communities.