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Washoe County discusses Election Day security

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The Washoe County Registrar of Voters began counting 2020 general election ballots this week and is live-streaming the process from its ballot intake area.

County Manger Eric Brown said the public can watch elections staff from the county’s website or on YouTube, but privacy of voters will be upheld.

“Care was given to the placement of those cameras as to make sure that ballot identity is preserved,” Brown told commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting.

In September, 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 vote processing capabilities in future elections.

Ben West, Washoe County security administrator, said his staff has been working the the Registrar of Voters and Allied Universal Security Services since February. Meetings with the Sheriff’s Office started during the summer.

Guides were put together for polling place workers and mangers that address how to handle various scenarios, West said. Examples include suspicious items, medical emergencies, evacuation procedures, and how and when to contact law enforcement. Training on COVID-19 precautions and information on what activities are permitted at polling locations was also provided.

“I’ve monitored a number of our early voting locations in person, along with members of the county manager’s office,” West said. “This is anecdotal information, but I’ve been to about a half-dozen different polling locations personally. I’ve spoken with our polling location managers and they all feel they’ve been provided the information they need to handle incidents likely to arise.”

Commission Chairman Bob Lucey said he’s heard positive feedback from voters regarding polling sites and drop-off locations.

“I’ve heard multiple reports from across the valley about our early polling locations and voter drop-off locations that the security has been tremendous, inviting and friendly and making sure everything remains calm,” Lucey said.

Greg Herrera, chief deputy of operations for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, said extra traffic controls and security will be in place around the county administration building on Election Day.

Additionally, Herrera said law enforcement will be roving various polling sites on Election Day and undercover personnel will be monitoring locations.

The last day for early voting is Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by then.

As of Oct. 27, the Registrar of Voters has received 94,353 mail-in and drop-off ballots. Another 71,441 have voted in person, bringing the combined total to 165,794. The county currently has 302,184 active voters.

For more information on voting location and hours, mail-in voting and ballot drop off, visit https://www.washoecounty.us/voters/.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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