Rural Nevada counties reconsidering Dominion for elections, return to paper ballots, hand-counting

County commissioners in multiple Nevada counties are holding meetings this week over ending the use of electronic voting equipment.

Updated: April 20, 2022 - 4:09pm

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Rural county commissioners in Nevada are looking to move away from using Dominion Voting Systems and return to paper ballots and hand-counting in elections.

On Tuesday, Esmeralda County commissioners voted to ask their county clerk to use paper ballots and count them by hand for all future elections, rather than use electronic voting equipment, The Nevada Independent reported. The county has little more than 600 registered voters, the majority of which are Republican. Former President Donald Trump received 82% of the vote in Esmeralda County in 2020.

Jim Marchant, a GOP candidate for Nevada secretary of state, presented the idea of switching to paper ballots during the Tuesday meeting. Esmeralda County clerk and treasurer LaCinda Elgan responded to Marchant's presentation by saying the electronic voting machines the county uses have not been connected to the internet and that there are multiple tests and security measure to ensure the accurate counting and recording of votes. She also noted that some voters prefer using an electronic voting machine to vote.

However, Elgan did not immediately say what action she would take regarding the issue.

Nye County commissioners in March also voted to ask their county clerk to use paper ballots and hand-counting for elections, following a presentation from Marchant regarding the measures, according to the Nevada Current.

County clerks in both Esmeralda and Nye are elected, rather than appointed, so the commissioners cannot order them to take a specific course of action, the Independent noted.

Before the Nye County commissioners vote, Nye County Clerk Sandra Merlino said, "I'm not saying, 'no I will not.' I just think I need to get past the primary because we are so far in," according to the Current.

Nye County appears to be preparing to make the changes requested by the commissioners for the general election in November, the Independent reported.

In Lincoln County on Monday, commissioners prepared to reconsider their relationship with Dominion Voting Systems, but the item was tabled due to how it was presented on the agenda. The county clerk, Lisa Lloyd, was against the measure, saying that machines count better than humans and the commissioners should wait to see how Nye County's hand-counting works in the November election.

Both Lloyd and Elgan noted Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton's (D-Las Vegas) recent comments during an April 1 interim legislative committee meeting where she suggested the state should consider removing funding from counties that move away from using Dominion, according to the Independent. A total of $1.8 million was set aside in a 2017 bill for many rural counties to use in the purchase of Dominion voting machines.

Elko County commissioners are to receive an update from the county clerk on Wednesday regarding alternatives to Dominion, such as paper ballots or a different voting machine supplier.

On Thursday, Lyon County commissioners are planning on discussing similar measures to what Esmeralda and Nye counties voted on.

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