Ballot counting: an exercise in patience

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 3:19 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The process has been splashed over newscasts and the internet in the last couple of days. Ballots being processed by election workers who take their time verifying the ballot’s authenticity.

Everyone wants the final count to be accurate, and this is what it takes to get there. But as with all tallies the numbers will change as ballots arrive and become part of the operation.

What was released on election night is not the final word.

“Some argue that we shouldn’t share any results until we have them all,” says Professor Fred Lokken, Political Science Chairman at Truckee Meadows Community College.

But counting and releasing those ballot numbers as they become available is the exercise we have now.

The numbers may stay the same for a day, and then change, only to change again. Mail-in voting, as well as drop off, and same day registration and voting have all meant the numbers will continue to evolve over time.

Observers may be frustrated. Lokken says Nevada’s relatively new mail-in voting protocols though may mean more voters are involved in electing candidates.

“It has proven to be a home run with Nevada voters,” says Lokken. “They love it. It hasn’t really made for an impressive voter turnout. It certainly made it easier for those who want to participate in this election. But it might have been a smaller turnout without mail in balloting so, it has actually moved the needle up in this election cycle,” he says.

Pre-election polls, or simple expectations may be thwarted when the final numbers are released.

Lokken says don’t be dissuaded into thinking there’s something amiss when a race doesn’t go one way or another. He says that is the very nature of elections.

“You can’t really complain about the process being too slow if you want a valid, and fair, and free election,” says Lokken.

“You should be cheering about that. And it’s just going to need patience.”