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Election observers watch long lines, lots of interest in midterm voting

By Mark Hernandez

Photos by Ty  O’Neil

According to the Nevada Secretary of State, there are 1,860,408 active registered voters in Nevada for the 2022 general election – 301,433 of whom live in Washoe County.  

During Election Day on Nov. 8, Washoe County opened all 66 of its voting centers on time even though it snowed much of the day. Starting at 7 a.m., employees, voters and volunteers showed up to the Washoe County complex on Ninth Street to monitor and help with the electoral process for the county. 

Some of the election observers who were volunteering Tuesday explained how busy the day had been. 

A poll worker accepts ballots for the drop-box the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022 in Reno, Nev. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

“A voter waited an hour and 20 minutes to get to the table,” said Deborah Marx, who was sitting in a taped off area with other observers.

“We’ve seen people leave the line frustrated, they couldn’t wait any longer. They leave without voting,” said Mary Crutacao. 

The line to vote trailed down a long hallway before it wrapped toward the front of the building and ended in the check-in table. Along with voting machines in the front of the building, there was also a ballot drop box that was attended by other volunteers. 

When the observers were asked why they volunteered, their answers echoed concerns that many people have expressed over the last few years. 

“Just the interest and concern that it’s done. There’s so much controversy about it,” said Ellen Widess. “I’m impressed at how secure the voting is.”

“We’ve come for many elections. This year seemed more important than ever to protect everyone’s right to vote,” said Crutacao. 

Poll watchers inside the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022 in Reno, Nev. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

For many voters, there was some apprehension to come vote in person or drop off their ballots for fear of voter intimidation. Despite some reports of armed militia members at Arizona voting locations and voter intimidation being a concern across the country, there hadn’t been any reports of voter intimidation in Washoe County. 

Jamie Rodriguez, the interim registrar, mentioned in a briefing on Tuesday that if there are any concerns about voter intimidation residents should call the county office or the secretary of state’s office to file a report. 

It is against the law to have any campaigning or candidates’ slogans inside of voting locations or 100 feet from the entrance of any voting area. The ban includes t-shirts, hats and other items voters may try to wear into voting locations.

Washoe County Registrar of Voters Jamie Rodriguez speaks with media on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022 in Reno, Nev. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

According to Rodriguez, by the end of the day Nov. 7, election eve, there were already more than 129,000 votes cast during early voting. 

Some mail-in ballots are still being held, however, and will need to have the signature cured by the voters before they are able to be counted.  

More than 1,200 ballots – about 300 from each party – needed to be verified against their signatures. Voters can find out the status of their ballot on the registrar’s website

According to the registrar, there have been only about 30-35 ballots that have been challenged. Some of these cases were where one envelope had two ballots inside, empty envelopes or signed ballots. (Only the envelopes should be signed, not the actual ballots.) 

The county doesn’t look into voter fraud accusations directly; those cases are looked into by the state attorney general or secretary of state’s office.

Election 2022

This Is Reno is focused on the mayoral, city and county races for the 2022 election.

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