Washoe County election results won’t be finalized until the Board of County Commissioners canvass the vote on Nov. 18. There are still a number of local and statewide races that are too close to call based on the percentage of votes counted.
Some races, however, seem to have found winners already—although that could change as thousands more ballots still need to be counted.
Here’s a look at a few of the candidates that had a clear lead by Wednesday:
- Incumbent Mayor Hillary Schieve had a more than 11 point lead over rival Eddie Lorton, a scenario that’s played out several times in recent years.
- Reno City Council members Naomi Duerr and Bonnie Weber also looked to be holding on to their seats, however Weber’s lead was much smaller.
- Michael Clark, the disgraced county assessor who staged an upset in the primary to oust incumbent Bob Lucey, has a nearly 15 point lead over opponent Keith Lockard for the County Commission District 2 seat.
- Mariluz Garcia has an initial lead on the County Commission District 3 seat which was vacated by term-limited Kitty Jung.
- Jeanne Herman appears to have hung on to her County Commission District 5 seat, besting Edwin Lyngar in a race that saw some serious mudslinging by special interest groups.
- The Washoe County School District’s Board of Trustees will also see some turnover as incumbent Ellen Minetto appears to have lost out to Colleen Westlake, who was backed by the far-right Franklin Project. Board president Angie Taylor will also likely be vacating her seat as a trustee, but not because she lost her race. She has a strong lead in the race for Assembly District 27.
- School board trustee Adam Mayberry appears to have a decisive win over his opponent to retain his seat, and Joe Rodriguez will also likely stick around, although his lead is much smaller.
Nearly 53,000 voters turned out for early voting, and another nearly 37,000 voted on Election Day. But mail-in ballots are proving a popular choice. Nearly a third of votes counted so far in Washoe County – 40,166 – have been mail ballots.
On Election Day 18,500 mail-in ballots were received at the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office. On Nov. 9, the day after the election, an additional 11 trays of ballots – 4,400 mail-in ballots – arrived from the post office.
More ballots are likely to arrive in the coming days too, based on election rules. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by Saturday, Nov. 12 are counted in the election results.
Washoe County voting officials said the number of mail-in ballots has increased dramatically since the pandemic and has led to election results being announced later than many people are used to.
“We are working on it, please be patient,” said Interim Registrar Jamie Rodriguez during a media briefing Wednesday. “We want to do it right, not fast. Each ballot should be read the same.”
The registrar’s office will be working later into the night than originally planned to account for the increase in mail-in ballots.
As of Wednesday afternoon there were 95 bins of mail-in ballots still needing to be processed, officials said. Each bin holds between 350-400 ballots, but not all the bins are full. This is why the exact number of ballots yet to be counted is unknown – because the only way of counting the ballots is by processing them.
Of the ballots that have been processed, there are still almost 1,100 that need to be cured or have the signature verified. The registrar’s office informs voters if their ballots have been challenged by mail correspondence, which can take time. Rodriguez said the best way to check if your ballot has been challenged is to visit the registrar’s website.
Rodriguez said the Washoe County Complex Building on East Ninth Street will be open Veterans’ Day as well as Saturday and Sunday to accommodate any signature verifying that needs to be done.
All challenged ballots need to be cured by Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. to be counted in this election.
Some other ballots have to be repaired before they are able to be read by the machines because they were torn or soiled in some way that interferes with the legibility of each ballot.
There have also been issues with ballots arriving with ink colors that cannot be scanned on the machine, such as purple or green or even pencil.