LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — An independent audit of the Clark County Election Department found no issues regarding how Nevada’s largest county processes mail-in ballots — from their creation to their tabulation.
In the summer of 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nevada Legislature voted to require county clerks mail a ballot to every registered voter for the November 2020 election, whether they wanted one or if they planned to vote in person.
Nearly half of all votes in the 2020 general election in Nevada were cast by mail, the Secretary of State’s Office reported. Last year, the legislature voted to make that move permanent, allowing a voter to opt-out of receiving a mail-in ballot, while continuing to offer early and in-person voting.
More than half of the votes cast in the June primary were done so by mail, Clark County records showed. More registered Democrats and Independents traditionally vote by mail, but 40% of Republicans voted via mail in June.
Before and after the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump and state Republicans cited widespread voter fraud, specifically in Clark County. The fraud allegations culminated with the Nevada Republican Party sending certificates from its own slate of electors to the federal government in Washington.
“Overall, we found that the election department has developed mail ballot processes that are in compliance with [state law] provisions,” the independent audit said. “Further, the department has developed mail ballot safeguarding and accountability processes that are best practice.”
Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria oversees elections in the county, which had more than 1.2 million registered voters as of Thursday.
“What makes you come through these doors every day?” the I-Team’s David Charns asked Gloria.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction knowing that you’re serving democracy,” Gloria said.
The Nevada Republican Party and national Republican leaders repeatedly slammed Gloria and the department in the days and weeks after the election.
Their claims, some filed in state and federal court, were all rejected.
One federal lawsuit claiming voter fraud cited alleged thousands of instances where people who no longer live in Nevada voted in the state. A list later provided in the lawsuit contained addresses and ZIP codes found to belong to many military families and students who are legally eligible to vote in Nevada.
The group also claimed poll watchers were unable to observe the tallying process. Judges also rejected that claim. Nevada law allows for poll watchers and election observers, but all watchers must agree to certain rules, including no photography. Members of the media go through a different procedure and must prove they are credentialed.
“The challenges were tremendous, without dealing what we had to deal with in the general election with the questioning of the integrity of what we do,” Gloria said.
In Nevada in 2020, 10 dead voters had ballots cast in their names and 10 people voted twice, the I-Team reported from a secretary of state report. The number is far below initial claims from state and national Republicans alleging nearly 4,000 individual cases of voter fraud. Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is a Republican. Her party censured her for defending the election, which she oversaw.
While President Joe Biden won the presidential race in Nevada by more than 30,000 votes, Republicans gained state seats in the state senate and assembly.
The audit, published in late July, looked at the election department’s steps to implement the mail-in voting law.
“I think we are very excited that an independent agency took a look at what we did,” Gloria said. “It showed clearly that we did due diligence from the start.”
“What was going through your mind when people were saying the machines weren’t working, the ballots were tampered with, the voters were changed?” Charns asked Gloria.
“We did receive some language that was concerning,” he said. “I think mainly what I like to focus on is the fact that my staff that came in here was having to deal with coming to work with 100 protesters outside, and some of them were armed.”
The keys to ward off misinformation are facts and transparency, he said, adding he is prepared for an onslaught of fraud allegations ahead of the November gubernatorial and mid-term election.
“They’re not surprising anymore,” Gloria said. “We know what’s coming.”
The Nevada Republican Party did not cite any fraud in the June primary. Gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert filed a lawsuit claiming fraud, which a judge tossed.
So far, prosecutors have charged one person with voter fraud in Nevada in connection with the 2020 election. Donald “Kirk” Hartle voted twice in the election by mailing in his deceased wife’s ballot.
Last fall, Hartle pleaded guilty to one charge of voting more than once in the same election. If he stays out of trouble for a year, he will be able to withdraw his plea and instead plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit voting more than once in the same election, which is a misdemeanor.
The legislature also passed new laws last year, requiring county clerks work more effectively with the state to clean and scrub voter lists.
Nevada voters have until Sept. 9 to opt-out of receiving a mail-in ballot for the upcoming November election. Voters can make their selection through the Secretary of State’s Office website.