Here’s an inside look at Nye County’s new ballot hand counting process

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 7:23 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Early voting is well underway across Nevada. In Nye County, a new process to count ballots will be used this election.

Hand counting will start Wednesday morning with mail-in ballots. More than 100 volunteers will be hand counting ballots over the next two weeks trained on the process by Clerk of Nye County Mark Kampf.

“The only thing we can count prior to Election Day are ballots that come in from the mail,” Kampf explained.

John Kakavulias is one of those volunteers.

“Fair election… that is all I really want is no shenanigans to occur,” Kakavulias shared.

“Mail-in ballot first are going to be tabulated in our office in Tonopah and then sent down here by the sheriff’s vehicle in locked boxes with secure locks and transport documentation,” stated Kampf. The hand counting will take place inside the Nye County Development Services Center which used to house the Planning Department.

Tuesday, FOX5 got a look at what a typical count room looks like. Teams of five will count 50 ballots at a time. There will be a reader at the head of the table who will read the ballot out loud, sitting next to them is the verifier who makes sure that the ballot has been read correctly. On the opposite end of the table, three talliers will keep track of the votes read aloud. The entire time a camera overhead will be recording the process to make sure it is done correctly. The camera will not record any ballots, only the three talliers. There are eight rooms set up this way for the volunteer teams.

All ballots will be counted via machine first and those numbers doubled checked with the hand count.

“Anytime you implement a new system you don’t just switch off the old one and implement a new one, you run them in parallel to make sure that things are running right,” Kampf asserted.

FOX5 spoke to voters in Pahrump and while most are in favor of the Nye County’s new hand count, some were not.

“There has been so much controversy over election fraud… I think having the double check is a good thing,” Jackie Dobbins contended.

“I am all for it because I am against machines because they can be corrupted,” Dennis Olsen argued.

“I think it is a total waste of time and money. It is not going to solve any of the problems that they have,” John Martell stated.

“I think we have enough electronics that we don’t need hand counts. I think that is taking us back, we need to go forward,” Jerome Radford maintained.

The ACLU of Nevada challenged some of Nye County’s new process and Friday, the Nevada Supreme Court sided with the ACLU. Nye County says they will be compliant with the court order and directions from the Secretary of State and will not publicize results of the hand count until after polls close.

“Our goal has been to produce a fair and transparent election that people can be confident of,” Kampf added.

Members of the public are welcome to observe the hand counting process. Volunteers will be sworn in at 8 a.m. Wednesday and the hand counting will start right after that.