By John Haughey
LAS VEGAS—Tossup races for the U.S. Senate, three House seats, and the governor’s office are too close to call in Nevada, especially after the state’s two largest counties stopped counting ballots a half-hour after polls closed on Nov. 8.
In Clark County, where 70 percent of Nevadans live in and around Las Vegas, and in Washoe County, which includes Reno, vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots dropped off or delivered on Election Day will not be counted until Nov. 9, the Nevada secretary of state announced at 7:30 p.m. on election night.
Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said delays in counting the ballots in his county are because of a manpower shortage and what appears to be a high turnout, especially just before polls closed at 7 p.m.
Washoe County Registrar Jamie Rodriguez said a high volume of VBM ballots, especially in the campaign’s closing days, will take his staff at least another day to count.
Rodriguez told reporters in Reno that Washoe County had received more than 6,000 ballots in the mail that day, and another 10,000 were turned in at ballot drop boxes.
The elections officials said it takes more time to process VBM ballots. VBM ballots postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 8, and received within the next four days are counted in results. The last day for VBM ballots to be counted is Nov. 12.
Left undecided is the U.S. Senate race between first-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, regarded as the most vulnerable of midterm Democrats defending seats in chamber, and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in one of the nation’s most-watched Senate races.
When Laxalt took the stage at the Red Rocks Casino in Summerlin, he trailed Cortez Masto by about 23,000 votes with 60 percent of the estimated tally counted.
By 1:30 a.m. PST, with 73 percent of the vote tallied, Laxalt was leading by more than 16,300 votes, garnering 402,342 or 49.5 percent to Cortez Masto’s 386,016 votes, or 47.5 percent of the 812,102 ballots cast.
“Unfortunately, we are in for a long night and a long couple of days,” Laxalt told Republicans gathered in a ballroom for a victory party. “We are confident that the votes are there and that we are going to win this race and take back Nevada.”
In the governor’s race, Republican Joe Lombardo, who is Clark County sheriff, was leading first-term incumbent Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak by 4 percentage points with 70 percent of the vote tallied.
Lombardo had 407,103 votes, or 50.2 percent, to Sisolak’s 374,625 votes, or 46.2 percent, of the 810,823 ballots counted.
“The reason why we are here is we don’t know anything,” Lombardo said when he came out onto the ballroom stage about 11 p.m. when he was trailing by 10 percentage points. “I anticipate you will be calling me ‘Gov. Lombardo’ in a few days.”
Also left undetermined are results in three of the state’s congressional races, all projected tossup contests for three Las Vegas-area districts that are currently occupied by Democrats.
‘A Lot Going on That Doesn’t Make Sense’
In the state’s Congressional District 1 (CD 1), which has only elected one Democrat in the last 40 years, six-term incumbent Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) was leading GOP challenger Mark Robertson 50.3 to 47.4 percent with 78 percent of the tally tabulated.
In CD 3, two-term incumbent Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) was leading Republican April Becker by 1,700 votes, or by less than 1 percentage point, with 76 percent of the 219,046 ballots counted.
In CD 4, two-term Rep. Steven Hartford (D-Nev.) was up 3 percentage points on challenger Sam Peters with 76 percent of 192,449 votes counted.
“There is a lot going on that doesn’t make sense,” Peters told The Epoch Times when he was trailing by 10 percentage points, “but there’s still a lot of votes to count.”
The only Nevada congressional race resolved on Election Day was six-term Republican incumbent Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-Nev.) who cruised to an easy victory over educator and indigenous issues advocate Elizabeth Mercedes Krause in the state’s CD 2.
Just after the polls closed at 7 p.m., a Clark County judge denied a lawsuit filed by Cortez Masto’s campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to keep some polling stations in the Las Vegas area open until 9 p.m.
The lawsuit cited delays caused by long lines—most polling places during a rainy, blustery day of swirling grist-fine dust in Clark County were quiet for most of the day but drew lines in the late afternoon and evening—and printing issues that occurred in at at least eight voting sites on Election Day, causing voters to wait more than an hour.
The suit sought an extension to provide the 12-hour voting window required under state law.
“Every vote must count, and delays caused by long lines and paper delays should not prevent Nevadans from casting their ballots,” Cortez Masto campaign spokesperson Josh Marcus-Blank said.
In an emergency hearing, District Court Judge Gloria Sturman ruled the complaints did not deny any voter the right to vote. She noted any voters in line at 7 p.m. were still allowed to cast a ballot.
“I’m not hearing that we know of, just even anecdotally, that we know of any person or persons who were denied the right to vote,” Sturman said.
Reopening those eight polling locations would be “appropriate” relief for the issues cited in the case, she said, before adding, “We can’t reopen polling places once they’re closed, logistically or even legally, I think.”
Nevada Republican Party Committee Chair Michael J. McDonald said the party sent four attorneys to the hearing to oppose the motion and urge Sturman to uphold “the letter of the law.”
McDonald criticized the Sisolak administration and Joe Gloria for their handling of the election.
“There is no reason we shouldn’t be counting votes right now,” he said. “After 2020 it’s 2022 and here we go again.”
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