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It took until Election Night but Republicans and Democrats finally agreed on something: Be patient


by April Corbin Girnus, Michael Lyle and Dana Gentry, Nevada Current

Election Day has morphed into Election Week.

Tuesday ended with none of Nevada’s top ticket races being called. Election officials at Clark and Washoe counties, which together make up almost 90% of the state population,  announced they did not have the resources to process the mail ballots that were received on Election Day via the postal service or physical drop boxes.

Partial results Wednesday morning showed Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto trailing Republican challengers Joe Lombardo and Adam Laxalt, and Democratic candidates holding leads in competitive races for Congress in Southern Nevada. Republicans held leads in all the races for statewide offices except the race for attorney general.

On Tuesday night candidates from both parties cautioned that the results will fluctuate over the coming days.

The results announced Tuesday night included votes cast during Nevada’s two-week early voting period and mail ballots processed before Election Day in Clark and Washoe counties along with some in-person Election Day voting in some rural counties.

The remaining mail ballots, particularly in Clark County, are expected to favor Democrats. Republicans have disproportionately voted in-person while Democrats disproportionately embraced mail ballots. During early voting, for example, Registered Republicans cast just about half of all in-person ballots but make up only 30% of active registered voters. Registered Democrats cast 54% of mail ballots but make up only 33% of active registered voters.

Control of the Senate could come down to the Nevada contest. As of early Wednesday, four races — Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia — had not been called. Georgia is likely headed to a runoff election that won’t take place until 2023. 

Cortez Masto spoke to a crowd of supporters at Encore Las Vegas just as the last of Nevada’s polling places were closing.

“The votes are still being counted,” she said. “We know this will take time and we won’t have more election results for several days. I am confident in this team. I’m confident in the campaign that we’ve built to win.”

Cortez Masto’s emphasis on waiting for the complete count mirrored other comments made by speakers at the Nevada Democratic Victory event.

Similarly, the Nevada State Democratic Party released a statement pledging to accept the final vote count and urging Republicans and others to pledge the same.

“Nevada takes voting rights very seriously, and with voter protection options like universal paper ballots, extended early voting, multiple voting options, and ballot curing, you can’t just push a button and have the results pop out, but every single vote gets counted, and that’s what matters,” said NV Dems Executive Director Matthew Fonken in a statement. We hope everyone joins us in our pledge to wait until the counts are final before we make tough calls.”

The Nevada Republican Party held an election night event at Red Rock Resorts. The Current was denied entry to that event.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Laxalt told supporters in remarks aired on local TV stations. “Unfortunately, we’re in for a long night and maybe a few days into this week as all the votes are tabulated. We’re confident that the numbers are there, and we’re gonna win this race and we’re going to take back America.”

Speaking after Laxalt, Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo likewise expressed optimism that the election would turn his way. But nodding to the fact that results would not be forthcoming until later in the week, told supporters, “We need some patience.” 

He predicted supporters will “be calling me Governor Lombardo here in the next few days.” 

“It’s going to be a long couple of days,” said state Republican chairman Michael McDonald as he implored the crowd to “start blowing this up” on social media. “And keep the rest of the world watching what’s happening here in Nevada because we will take back the Senate from Nevada. We will take back the governor’s mansion.”

Earlier that night, the state Republican Party leader was more animated, tweeting, “Unacceptable that Clark County is so poorly managed that they failed to plan to release election results Election Night.” 

This isn’t the first time Nevada has taken several days to count ballots and confirm winners.

In 2020 – the first time the state used universal mail-in ballots – full election results weren’t known for several days after election, and Joe Biden’s victory in the state wasn’t confirmed until the Saturday after Election Day.

This story was updated to reflect overnight reporting of additional votes.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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