LAS VEGAS >> Eyes across the U.S. turned to the swing state of Nevada on Wednesday, where critical races — including one that could determine control of the U.S. Senate — remained too early to call amid a plodding vote count that could last through the week.
The national tug-of-war between the Democratic and Republican parties is encapsulated in nearly every level of government in Nevada, but especially in the razor-thin margins at the top of the ballot: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is fending off a challenge from Republican Adam Laxalt, three House seats remain in limbo and the Democratic governor is in a tight race with a Republican sheriff.
With a significant number of mail-in ballots still to be counted, both Republican and Democrats in the high-profile Senate and governor’s races have urged supporters to be patient. County election clerks will count mail ballots received until Nov. 12 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.
“Our positive energy got us here today, and our positive energy is going to continue to flow this week,” said incumbent Cortez Masto from a Democratic watch party on the Las Vegas strip Tuesday night. She was in a tight race with Laxalt, a conservative who has blamed inflation and illegal immigration on Democratic policies.
Voting officials in the two most populous counties, encompassing the population centers of Las Vegas and Reno, warned it would take days to process the mail-in ballots.
By Wednesday morning, only one of four Nevada House races had been decided. Six-term Republican Rep. Mark Amodei easily defeated Elizabeth Mercedes Krause in Nevada’s rural northern district where no Democrat has ever won.
The 2nd Congressional District was considered the only safe seat for either party among the four in the western battleground of Nevada, where three incumbent Democrats faced stiff challenges.
In Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and holds nearly three-quarters of the state’s population, every vote cast in-person on Election Day has been counted except for 5,555 provisional ballots that still need to be reviewed, Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said Wednesday morning.
But more ballots are pouring in. The county received nearly 15,000 ballots Monday and Tuesday that will be counted Wednesday and another 12,700 arrived by mail on Wednesday that won’t be counted until at least Thursday. County election officials are also working on processing a “considerable amount of drop boxes we received that held a considerable amount of ballots,” from Tuesday, Gloria said.
Hundreds of staff are working to process ballots as quickly as possible, and “every piece of equipment that we have available to process mail will be in use,” Gloria said.
The counting will continue through Veteran’s Day and the weekend. For any ballots that need a “cure” — which can occur if the signature on the ballot envelope doesn’t appear to match the voter’s signature on file — voters will have until the close of business on Monday to fix the matter, Gloria said.
“There’s no holidays for us,” Gloria said.
Nevada is a key national battleground state that Trump failed to carry in 2016 or 2020. Biden defeated Trump two years ago by a slim 2.4 percentage points. While voters in 15 of the state’s 17 counties are reliably Republican, Clark County is reliably Democratic.