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Nevada county prepares to count conspiracy-inspired ballots

A county in Nevada is set to begin an unprecedented hand count of its midterm ballots on Wednesday, a process fueled by voting machine conspiracy theories that raised concerns about the leaking of early results ahead of election day.

A scrub brush-dotted old silver mining area about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, Nye County received approval from the state’s Supreme Court for counting last week. The approval came with conditions that it would take a series of steps to prevent the number of initial votes in any given race from being publicly reported.

Nevada is home to one of the most-watched US Senate races in the country, as well as high-stakes competitions for the office of governor and overseeing elections.

The Secretary of State’s office is reviewing Nee County’s written proposal, which includes scrapping plans to livestream the hand count. In addition, the five-man teams would be divided into four to six separate rooms so that no one in person and who watched the mailing ballots count would have to know the “totality of the returns.”

The invigilators will have to sign a form stating that they will not release any result which they have heard. Anyone who does so can be charged with felony misdemeanor.

The hand-count of all paper ballots will run in parallel with the county’s machine tabulation process.

The Secretary of State’s office, which oversees county clerks, has the power to approve or reject Nye County’s plan. It had not decided till late Tuesday whether the proposal was sufficient to meet the requirements set out in the Supreme Court order.

Asked if the count would go ahead, Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Mark Vlaschin replied “TBD.”

The concern about securing early voting numbers is because the process is so unusual. Ballots are cast early, either in person or by mail, usually machine-counted on election day, the results of which are released only after voting closes. In most places, post-election hand counting is used on a limited basis to ensure that machine counting is accurate.

In a hand count, teams work together to verify results, selecting voters race by race, ballot by ballot.

Nye County commissioners voted to run a hand count of all their ballots after nearly two years of conspiracy theories related to voting machines and a bombardment of complaints by residents who have been subjected to false claims and false claims that 2020 The presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. ,

Trump won 69% of the vote in Nye County, while President Joe Biden won Nevada by nearly 33,500 votes.

Nye County wanted to start counting its early ballots before election day because the process is so difficult and time-consuming. Waiting until Election Day to begin the full hand count would risk the county — which has about 33,000 registered voters — missing the state’s certification deadline.

Nye is the most prominent county in the US to change its vote counting process in response to conspiracy theories – even though the 2020 election, including in Nevada, has found no evidence of widespread fraud or machine manipulation. The decision earlier this year prompted the longtime county clerk to resign.

Nye County’s interim clerk, Mark Kampf, described the county’s Dominion tabulator machines as a “stop-gap” measure while deciding how to handle future elections.

Jim Merchant, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, said he wants to spread the counting by hand to every county. During a county commission meeting in March, he said he would try to get the state’s 15 rural counties to adopt a hand-count and then “force Clarke and Washoe”—home to Las Vegas and Reno—to do the hand-counting. For.

Merchant has reiterated the baseless election claims and told the audience that the elections are corrupt, saying that the candidates are “selected” through a rigged process rather than being elected.

Nevada’s least populous county, Esmeralda, used hand counting to validate its primary results in June, when officials spent more than seven hours counting just 317 ballots. The most populous county in the continental US is Owehi County, Idaho, with just a fifth of the voters registered as Nye County.

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