Nevada Agrees on Rules for Hand-Counting Ballots
First-time Voter on Election Day 2012

Nevada Agrees on Rules for Hand-Counting Ballots

In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won the state of Nevada by 33,000 votes. After the election, some Trump supporters in Nevada claimed that voting machines were tampered with and that the state’s results were inaccurate. Although no evidence was found to support the claim of tampering, Nevada’s government has approved a set of temporary statewide procedures to hand-count ballots. These new voting procedures will be in place for the 2022 midterm elections.  

What Happened? 

On August 26, 2022, the Nevada Secretary of State’s office announced that starting October 1, jurisdictions can decide whether they want their ballots to be hand-counted, machine-counted, or some combination of the two. (Rural Nye County, for instance, expects to receive 30,000 ballots, and will use both methods.) For jurisdictions that decide to hand-count, the new regulations explain exactly how that must be done. For example, there must be bipartisan vote counters and observers. There are even rules for how the counting areas can be set up, such as how many counters can be seated at a table and how far apart the tables must be spaced from each other. Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske explained that these statewide regulations ensure that jurisdictions that hand count votes will follow the same rules. 

Why Hand Counting? 

In Nevada, the push to hand-count ballots has been led by Republican Jim Marchant. He is a former state legislator and is now a nominee for secretary of state. Marchant says that, had he been secretary of state in 2020, he would not have certified Joe Biden’s win. Marchant has repeatedly told his supporters that the 2020 election was “stolen.” Marchant, and those who agree with him, believe that voting machines can be “hacked,” and that votes are tampered with, even though no evidence has been found proving this has happened. Marchant believes that hand-counting will be a more accurate and fair way to count the ballots. However, some hand-count supporters dislike the new regulations in Nevada. They believe that they are too limiting and complicated and that they are an attempt to sabotage the hand-counting process. 

Is Hand-Counting Safer? 

Supporters of hand-counting ballots believe that it is a safer, fairer, and more accurate way to count votes. But voting rights groups say that hand-counting is less accurate and less secure, because it opens the process up to human error. They also say that hand-counting is less efficient. It could delay election results past their certification deadlines.  

Could This Happen in Other States? 

Six other states have introduced bills to transition to hand-counting methods. But none of them passed. Some tiny jurisdictions around the country do hand-count ballots, but this affects only 0.2 percent of registered voters (about 483,200 people). Some voting experts think that hand-counting would be extremely difficult to carry out in large jurisdictions and would introduce more problems on Election Day. 

Dig Deeper How are votes counted in your community? If you don’t know, use Internet resources or call your local board of elections to find out.