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In Nevada, a last ditch effort to make sure every vote counts



An earlier version of a photo caption with this article misidentified the group Jack and Sally Leonard are volunteering for. They are with Nevada Democratic Victory, not the Nevada Democratic Party. The article has been corrected.

HENDERSON, Nevada — Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” played on the radio as Jack and Sally Leonard embarked on a mission to get every last Democratic vote out of Clark County, Nevada.

Election day passed a few days ago. But with the vote tally revealing a close race between Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt on Friday morning, with Senate control at stake, thousands of ballots with minor flaws could still be corrected and counted. So the Leonards, motivated by their concern for the future of the country, went out for a cure.

“I fear for democracy,” said Sally, 71. “We have family members who are…”

“Radical,” interjected Jack, 74.

“Radical,” Sally agreed. “And by that, I mean they agree with the lies that are being told.”

When Nevada adopted universal mail-in voting last year after turning to mail-in ballots in 2020 as a solution to the pandemic, the law required verification using signatures provided during the ballot. voter registration. If the signatures on the mailed ballots do not match those signatures, or if there is no signature at all, the ballots must be verified or “corrected”.

As postal voting becomes more common across the country, it has had the effect of prolonging the electoral process, with volunteers knocking on doors not just ahead of the election – but also in the days after.

Healing the vote is an option in 24 states, eight of which have universal mail-in voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Processing times range from the day before Election Day to 21 days after. In states with longer windows to cure ballots, such as Nevada, political groups with floor play infrastructure for voter turnout also help voters cure their ballots in the days that follow. an election.

The effort could be decisive in particularly tight races. In Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, Republican instigator Lauren Boebert held a narrow lead of just over 1,100 votes against Democrat Adam Frisch on Saturday. But between 3,000 and 4,000 ballots had been flagged for recovery. With Democrats enjoying an overall advantage in mail-in ballots, the rush to contact voters and heal ballots before Wednesday’s deadline could boost Frisch’s numbers.

Nevada residents have until Monday to settle the ballots, which partly explains the lengthy vote counting process that continued Saturday and was expected to extend into next week.

In Clark County, home to Las Vegas, officials sent letters and made phone calls to thousands of voters with verification issues on their ballots. Clark County Registrar of Electors Joe Gloria said as of Saturday there were 14,651 unprocessed ballots in the county, of which 7,139 remain unresolved.

With so much at stake, political parties and advocacy groups have launched their own efforts to spread the word and get ballots corrected.

Door-to-door efforts to heal ballots have generally been a liberal enterprise in Nevada, though many groups are taking up the challenge. In 2020, Republicans may have left votes on the table: There were 2,887 unprocessed ballots statewide, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, about a third of which were from Republicans and a quarter Democrats.

Nationally, former President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders encouraged voters to avoid mail-in voting in favor of voting in person on Election Day, while lobbying unfounded accusations on the fraud tainting postal voting. It’s unclear how the rhetoric affected turnout in Nevada; the partisan breakdown of state absentee ballots will not be available until next week.

Florida Republicans rushed to limit mail-in voting after Trump’s attacks on the practice. Now, some fear it will lower GOP turnout.

But Democrats seem to believe they have something to gain from aggressive healing efforts.

Enter the white-bearded Jack Leonard, in his Wild Bill t-shirt, cargo shorts and Skechers slip-ons. He had voted for politicians from either party until Trump took office. Republican rhetoric put him off.

As Sally fumbled with her phone’s GPS, the couple crisscrossed southern Las Vegas and suburban Henderson in their red SUV. They knocked on door after door, using a list provided by the party as a guide. Nevada Democratic victory. With an application provided by the organization, they checked off 20 homes on Friday morning.

At one residence, they let a voter’s husband know that she needed to take care of her unprocessed ballot as soon as possible. At the unanswered doors, they left behind a pamphlet titled “YOUR BALLOT WILL BE REJECTED!” with instructions on how to remedy ballots by phone, email or in person.

The couple may have stayed home on Friday, but Supreme Court rulings this year, including the court’s ruling on Roe vs. Wadeushered in a sense of urgency, they said.

Nevada Democratic Victory declined to share details about the extent of its healing efforts or process. The state GOP does not advertise healing-related volunteer opportunities on its website and did not respond to a request for comment.

The state’s Culinary Union said it is leading the largest statewide signature healing effort; 200 canvassers began their healing efforts on Wednesday and will continue through the weekend, the organization said. “People are really grateful that we’re educating them and helping them make their vote count,” union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said.

The Leonards mostly received no response, speaking to only three people in person.

“We tried,” Jack said, shuffling into the driver’s seat.

Said Sally, “That’s all we can do.”

Amy Gardner in Washington contributed to this report.