Local officials sent ballots to voters in Washoe and five other Nevada counties on Wednesday, signaling the start of one of the state’s strangest, and most controversial, political contests in recent memory.
A federal judge on Monday dismissed President Donald Trump’s legal challenge against the Silver State’s plan to conduct a mostly vote-by-mail presidential election during the pandemic, though that’s unlikely to ease Trump supporters’ concerns about so-called “ballot harvesting” allowed under divisive election law changes adopted in August.
In an attempt to alleviate some concerns over the mail-in ballots, the state’s top elections official released a new ballot tracking app Tuesday, which will allow Nevadans to keep an eye on their vote from the moment it’s mailed to them, to the moment it’s counted.
The app was announced just nine days after Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske urged voters to ignore inaccurate mail-in voting guidelines laid out in postcards distributed by the U.S. Postal Service — only the latest sign of still-widespread confusion about how officials plan to collect and tally ballots on Nov. 3.
Here’s a closer look at how that process will work:
How do I vote?
All registered, active Nevada voters will automatically receive a mail-in ballot under last month’s passage of Assembly Bill 4. That means those who wish to vote by mail do not need to request a mail-in or absentee ballot this year.
Those who prefer to vote in-person can do so at any one of the state’s 65 early voting locations, or at one of the 140 voting centers scheduled to open on Election Day.
Voters who are over the age of 65, have a physical disability, or can’t read or write are allowed to seek ballot-marking assistance from anyone willing to attach their name, address and signature to the ballot.
Residents who can read and sign their own ballot are also allowed to have someone else hand it in. Assistants who fail to do so can be charged with a felony.
Voters will have to fill out, sign and mail their ballots no later than Election Day. No postage is necessary.
Ballots can also be hand-delivered to any elections clerk or at any one of the ballot drop-off locations open during Election Day and early voting.
You can find a full list of those locations on the Secretary of State’s website.
How do I know my vote was counted?
BallotTrax, the ballot-tracking app recently unveiled by state elections officials, is free to download at nevada.ballottrax.net/voter. Users will have to provide their name, date of birth and ZIP code to register for the service, which provides automatic voice, text or email updates on the status of a voter’s ballot.
Voters can also check their registration and verify the status of their ballot by visiting the Secretary of State’s registered voter services website.
Ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Ballots received more than seven days after the election will not be counted, nor will ballots that can’t be matched to a voter signature on file at the county clerk’s office.
Voters have nine days after Election Day to clear up signature mismatch issues either by mail or via the Nevada Secretary of State’s website.
All ballots must be tallied within nine days of Election Day. Early voting begins on October 17 and runs through October 30.
What if I don’t get a ballot?
Voters are encouraged to double-check their registration status and, if needed, update their information to ensure their ballot arrives at the right address. Voter registration status can be check at the Secretary of State’s website.
Residents who do not receive a ballot can contact state and local elections officials using the contact info below.
Who can I contact with questions?
Voters with questions about the 2020 general election are encouraged to contact county elections officials or visit the Secretary of State’s website at nvsos.gov. Residents can reach Cegavske’s office at (775) 684-5705 or by emailing email@example.com.
Washoe residents can contact county Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula at (775) 328-3670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full list of myths and facts about the upcoming election can be found below or on the Secretary of State’s website:
James DeHaven is the politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. He covers campaigns, the Nevada Legislature and everything in between. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.