WASHINGTON (AP) — With control of Congress pending, officials in Nevada’s closely watched races for Senate and House, as well as governor, continued to tally votes Thursday.
The vote counting is taking days, but that’s not abnormal for Nevada, where a chunk of votes have previously not been tallied until after election night. In the two most populous counties, officials warned up front that it would take days to process the outstanding ballots.
A few things have slowed Nevada’s vote counting in recent elections.
First, Nevada has also had problems with long lines of voters at poll close, although Nevadans have traditionally opted to vote early. The state won’t release vote counts until all voters who were in line at poll close have cast their vote.
Second, in 2020, Nevada greatly expanded absentee voting, sending a ballot to every registered voter. The state passed legislation to do that in future elections as well.
Also that year, nearly 15% of Nevada’s vote was not reported until after election night — and it took three days for the state to report 100% of the vote.
This year, 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 outstanding ballots.
County election clerks will count mail ballots received until Nov. 12 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.
Officials have until Nov. 17 to finish the counting and submit a report to the Nevada secretary of state’s office, according to state law.
The state has no mandatory recount law,
WHAT HASN’T BEEN CALLED
— A Senate contest between Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
Laxalt and Cortez Masto have been locked in a tight race for weeks, both hitting hard on national party talking points: Laxalt blaming inflation and illegal immigration on Democratic policies, and Cortez Masto promising to block GOP-led attempts at a nationwide abortion ban and to fight for a pathway to permanent citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.
— A governor’s race between Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak and GOP Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
The campaign was costly and contentious, with airwaves and the internet awash in recent weeks with ads sponsored by the candidates, their parties and political action committees aiming to amplify their differences. Both candidates predicted the race’s outcome wouldn’t be known for several days — with each man predicting he would win.
— Three House races where Democratic incumbents faced stiff challenges.
In two swing districts stretching out of Las Vegas through suburbs into rural areas, second-term Rep. Susie Lee faces Republican April Becker, and third-term Rep. Steven Horsford is up against Republican Samuel Peters.
As a result of redistricting, six-term Rep. Dina Titus is on the hot seat in the Democrat’s traditional stronghold encompassing the Las Vegas Strip after party strategists sacrificed some turf in exchange for gains elsewhere. Mark Robertson, a retired Army colonel, is trying to become the first Republican to win that 1st District seat since 1998.
WHAT WE KNOW
—With more than 85% of the votes counted, Republicans are leading their Democratic opponents by single-digit percentage points in the Senate and governor’s races, while Democrats held a similar edge in the three pending House races.
—A significant number of mail ballots remain to be counted. Election officials will count ballots received until Saturday as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.
—Officials have said there are tens of thousands of ballots that remain to be counted in Las Vegas’ Clark County and thousands more in Washoe County, home to Reno.
—Democrats and Republicans are urging their supporters to be patient while officials continue to count votes.
—Nevada wasn’t called in 2020′s presidential election until the Saturday after Election Day — the same day Pennsylvania (and therefore the presidency) was called for Joe Biden.
WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW
—Beyond the glaring questions — who won the Senate and governor’s races? — it’s also unclear how many more votes from drop boxes remain to be counted.
Mike Catalini can be reached at https://twitter.com/mikecatalini
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