The 2018 midterm election has come to an end but some Nevadans remain frustrated about the process and how long it took for votes to be counted in the Silver State. As Lucia Starbuck reports, some say they weren’t able to register to vote and others say they waited in line for over two hours and were still unable to vote.
Long Lines, Slow Results
On election night, Nov. 6, voters in Washoe County stood in long lines hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. in some of the 82 different polling stations. Many voters went to bed without knowing if the candidates they cast a vote for won or not.
This isn’t all that surprising. In Washoe County, the registrar’s office had to receive help collecting ballots from the sheriff’s department. The sheriff’s department drove ballots to the county administration office from distant locations such as Incline Village, over 40 minutes away.
A High Voter Turnout
The high voter turnout also surprised Washoe County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula. In this 2018 midterm election, Washoe County voter turnout was tabulated at 70.13, much higher than for other recent midterms.
“It’s been a great turnout for all of our voters for this wonderful midterm election where everyone is able to participate we’ve had over a 184,000 people show up to participate in our elections this year so we are very very proud of that,” Spikula said.
Anger from Voters
Elsewhere in Nevada though there was anger. Facebook user Toni Westbrook VanCleave, from the capital Carson City, which is also its own county, wrote a Facebook post stating, “I stood in line at the Dayton high school for 2 hours, outside in the cold and when I finally got up to the counter just to sign in they tell me I can’t vote because the DMV never changed my address on my voter registration card…So all they can tell me is to go back to my car, drive up to Mound house and vote there! There wasn’t time, by the time I would have gotten there the polls would have closed! Needless to say I didn’t get to vote!”
More Early Voting Needed?
Spikula said the aim is to have people waiting in line for less than 30 minutes. She is also an advocate for early voting to speed up the process on election day.
“Our goal is not to have long lines…. we want to make it as convenient as possible for them [voters] so they will participate we don’t want to discourage any voting,” Spikula said.
Some Nevadans say they didn’t even get the chance to vote due to barriers with registering. Maclyn Crnkovich, a junior majoring in journalism, says she and her mom Dana Barrett have never been able to register in Humboldt County.
“I got all the way through the process and I got to the end it said I couldn’t complete the online registration because my address wasn’t matching my license so I fixed everything and it was right on my license and on the website then I clicked it again and it told me if I try two more times that it was going to notify someone for voter fraud so I talk to my mom about it I was like what’s up how do you register to vote she says oh this is always happen to me and I haven’t fixed it,” Crnkovich said.
Confusion to Register
Crnkovich explains that the street near their house recently got a name change, but this hasn’t affected their address. Spikula explains why the university student and her mom may have faces these challenges.
“If they’re registering online it will kick out anything that doesn’t match exactly to our address database…we encourage anybody with an address issue just call us and we’ll see what we need to do…we don’t want these to be obstacles while registering either,” Spikula explained.
It wasn’t until 10:02 p.m. that all of the votes were cast according to a tweet made by Nevada Election Officials. Shortly after, votes started being counted and released for rural Nevada. However, most results weren’t announced until after midnight.
People attending an election watch party hosted by the Democratic Party of Washoe County began cheering for Democrats winning in California before people in Nevada finished voting.
Spikula doesn’t believe the votes took abnormally long to get counted.
“I think we’re doing a really good job the lines were a little bit longer especially towards the end on Election night with those last-minute voters coming in it took a little bit longer to process them…I think we’ve gotten so good people expect a 10 to 15 minute wait,” she said.
Spikula and her colleagues feel content with how election night unfolded. They say they recently installed 1,325 new voting machines for Washoe County and are preparing for the 2020 presidential election where they are expecting an even higher voter turnout.
Reporting by Lucia Starbuck shared with the Reynolds Sandbox