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The Nevada Independent

Thousands of votes could not be counted because of invalid signatures and improperly submitted ballots

Kristyn Leonard
Kristyn Leonard
Election 2020

Of the more than 490,000 ballots cast in Nevada’s primary election, 10,799 were unable to be counted statewide — most because of invalid signatures that voters failed to “cure.”

In total, 12,366 ballots statewide required a signature cure as a result of a missing signature or one that did not match the one filed with election officials, and 5,617 of those ballots were successfully cured, or resolved through follow-up. That left 6,749 ballots unable to be counted because voters did not complete the curing process.

“Failure to cure signature is by far the biggest reason a received ballot was not counted, but there are other reasons a ballot received by a county would not be counted,” Wayne Thorley, deputy secretary of state for elections, said in an email to The Nevada Independent on Monday.

Signature curing works like this: Within 48 hours of the county becoming aware of a signature error on a ballot, voters are sent a letter letting them know they have to cure their signature, either by signing an unsigned ballot or fixing a mistake with the original signature. This can be done electronically or physically via fax, mail or hand-delivery.

Among the other reasons counties could not count the remaining 4,050 ballots were ballot return envelopes with multiple ballots inside, ballot return envelopes with no ballot included and ballots postmarked after the deadline. 

June’s primary election saw 29.5 percent turnout among registered voters, with more than 480,000 ballots counted; 98 percent of voters chose to cast their ballots by mail.

Not all counties were able to immediately provide further information on how many ballots in each county were not able to be counted and why.

Washoe County, which was able to provide numbers, had 2,431 total ballots that could not be counted. Of those, 1,331 were a result of voters failing to cure signatures, 1,053 were postmarked after Election Day, 32 did not include a ballot in the envelope, 13 did not present acceptable ID and two included more than one ballot in one envelope.

There were 2,810 ballots initially challenged in Washoe County because of signature issues, and 1,479 voters did cure their signatures in time for their votes to be counted.

While Clark County could not give a full breakdown, Registrar Joe Gloria said at a special meeting of the Clark County Commission on Friday that 168 voters returned multiple ballots in one envelope and 209 voters returned envelopes with no ballot.

In addition, 76 of the provisional ballots were rejected. Provisional ballots, cast in-person during early voting or on Election Day, are only counted after election officials certify that the voter has provided adequate identification, is eligible to vote in the election, and has not already cast a ballot.

Of those, 36 did not provide adequate proof of residence for identification, 32 never registered to vote, seven voted in the wrong district and one had already voted in the primary election.


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