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Wait times at polling sites to be available electronically for early voting, Election Day

By Carla O'Day
Voters wait in line at the Washoe County Complex to vote in the June 2020 primary election.

Mail-in ballots can be tracked through BallotTrax

Information on wait times at polling locations are scheduled to be available through an online application to Washoe County residents during early voting and on Election Day, the Registrar of Voters told commissioners Tuesday.

“We’re very excited to promote it heavily for this election,” Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula said. “Hopefully this will help with any lines and disperse people to locations that may not have as many voters in line.”

While a higher than usual amount of mail-in ballots are expected for the Nov. 3 general election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washoe County is planning to open a limited number of in-person polling places.

A Washoe County ballot drop box for the June 2020 primary election.
A Washoe County ballot drop box for the June 2020 primary election. Image: Trevor Bexon

The county is also setting up drop box locations for ballots. Each site will be staffed and ballots will be returned to the Registrar of Voters daily, Spikula said.

Early voting is scheduled Oct. 17-30. Those wishing to vote in person must surrender their mail-in ballot to an election worker at a polling site prior to voting electronically.

Spikula said 15 sites have been selected for early voting and 29 places will be open on Election Day. Lawlor Events Center and the Reno-Sparks Convention Center are among sites, she said.

“We’re hoping those two locations, because of their size and ability to handle large crowds, will be some of our turn-out locations where we can facilitate more people and still maintain social distancing and the required 50% capacity,” Spikula said.

Polling sites will have 6-foot spacers and temperature scanners. Masks will be required. Spikula said poll workers will be trained on safety precautions, which include disinfecting equipment.

The Nevada Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that addresses requirements for elections in areas affected by emergencies or disasters. It requires mailing ballots to all active registered voters this year, a move which county officials say will increase the number of returned ballots the office will need to properly handle while processing.

Washoe County plans to start mailing absentee ballots Oct. 2 to voters residing locally. Those living overseas and elsewhere in the U.S. will be mailed ballots this week. Return ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

Those planning to vote by mail who want to keep track of their ballot can sign up online to receive email or text messages that state the status of their ballot. Voters can register at https://nevada.ballottrax.net/voter/.

“We also have an internal process where we track that information as well,” Spikula said. “We track when a ballot is issued, when it’s mailed and when it’s received by our office.”

Earlier this month, Washoe County commissioners approved the use of a grant to purchase a new Criterion Elevate machine, a vote-by-mail sorting system by Fluence Automation. The machine is expected to enable the county to use technology in place of manual hand-sorting. County officials also say the sorting system will allow for the ability to expand voting processing capabilities in future elections.

For more information on in-person early voting and on Election Day, visit
https://www.washoecounty.us/voters/elections/Polling_Location.php

For more information on voting by mail, visit
https://www.washoecounty.us/voters/vote-by-mail/index.php and
https://www.washoecounty.us/voters/files/2020_General_Election_Absentee_Ballots__Mail_Ballots.pdf

To learn about facts vs. myths in the general election, the Secretary of State has provided information at https://www.nvsos.gov/sos/home/showdocument?id=8842

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