Washoe residents will not be getting their ballots in the mail this week after officials said the county’s printing vendor “couldn’t print them fast enough” to meet an accelerated delivery deadline.
Various media outlets, including the Reno Gazette Journal, reported officials in six counties, including Washoe County, were on track to ship ballots by Sept. 23 or Sept. 24.
But in the span of less than 24 hours, that date changed.
On Wednesday, Washoe County spokeswoman Bethany Drysdale told an RGJ reporter that ballots had possibly “shipped out today” in order to hit the post office on Thursday.
The next day, she revised that estimate to Oct. 3.
Minutes after that, she again amended the projected mailing date to Oct. 2 — the same date that now appears on the Secretary of State’s website, which lists ballot mailing dates for the state’s 17 counties.
Adding to the confusion, the dates published on the Secretary of State’s website have changed multiple times over the past week.
“For the sake of clarity, our website says Oct. 2,” Drysdale wrote in a Thursday text message. “That’s the date they drop at the post office. They will obviously start going out to voters the following day, but let’s stick with the date of shipment stated on the website.”
That wasn’t exactly true either.
As of late Thursday afternoon, at least one page on the county’s website promised that “all Mail-In ballots have been mailed out as of September 14th, 2020 and should arrive within the coming days.”
That language was later taken off the website.
Voter Registrar Deanna Spikula said in a written statement Thursday that the confusion stemmed from her office’s push to expedite ballot mailing.
“We pushed our printer to meet an earlier deadline but they are facing exceptionally high demand,” Spikula said, noting her office has had to scramble to conform with the state’s new mail-in voting law. “We had hoped to get them out sooner, as early as this week, but we will stick to our original planned delivery date of October 2.”
Confused? You’re not alone.
Riley Sutton, a Reno-based political consultant, took to social media to vent his frustration with the fast-changing ballot delivery schedule and other “incorrect and misleading” voting information about an election process that’s already distrusted by many of President Donald Trump’s supporters.
He worried if voters received their ballots before the date published on government websites, they may think the ballots aren’t real.
Sutton, whose clients are largely Democrats, urged residents to contact county officials and ask them to correct inaccurate and inconsistent information about everything from state voter assistance laws to absentee voting.
“I’m deathly worried that we’re about to have a major s*** show with our local elections, ” Sutton wrote in a Facebook post. “There are MAJOR issues of incorrect and misleading information about how to vote, when ballots will be sent out, who can return ballots, and more, on the Washoe Registrar’s site…
“So what’s going to happen? Confusion.”
Spikula said her office is working to make sure all the pages on the website are accurate and conform to Assembly Bill 4, the new mail-in voting law passed in August during a special legislative session.
“Certain changes required by AB4 are only applicable to this election, so we are working diligently to maintain the necessary long-term information on our website while updating the language specific to November’s election,” Spikula said.
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 also reach state elections officials at (775) 684-5705 or by emailing email@example.com.
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.