SOUND: Vote beeping
Voting methods across the state are pretty consistent. They are all electronic machines and while they may be technologically advanced, in recounts they can be frustrating.
"We will never know with 100 percent certainty how every voter cast their ballots in 1998."
Jack Finn was Press Secretary for Senator Ensign in an infamous race against Senator Harry Ried. It was one of the closest races in the nation
"The computer gave us a number. We asked for a re-count. The computer re-tabulated and spit out the exact same number. There was no paper back-up. We had to rely on the computer and the technology that was in place."
So contentious was the issue that Ensign invited a team of attorneys from Washington. Legal issues dragged on until December 19 and the race was settled in favor of Ried with just 428 votes. Both sides complained that they something more tangible than the number the machines spit out. As a result of the high-profile re-count there have been a few changes. After this year's primary a candidate in Goldfield, Nevada, 185 miles north of Las Vegas demanded a re-count echoing some of the same 1998 concerns.
"This gentleman wanted to have something tangible in his hands"
Cindy Elgan, Esmeralda County Clerk and Treasurer was in charge of the re-count. To make it a little more tangible, she ordered every one of the votes to be tallied on a white board. It was easy she says because there were only 38 votes total.
"No matter how you sliced it or diced it, it came out to the same results that you had on election night."
A re-count in Clark County with more than 1-thousand precincts would be quite different. As a result of the 1998 race, the registrar can print out a record of the ballots and use those for re-counts. Another addition as a result of the 1998 re-count is the v-pat printer.
At the end of the voting process voters can see a print-out of their choices displayed behind a glass window. Nevada became the first state this year to add these on a wide scale. Since they aren't on every machine, they can't be used for re-counts yet says Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax.
"By 2006 it's a whole new ball game because the secretary of state has ordered that all machines have paper trails."
So by 2006, the same printed record of the ballot that voters see and can verify would be the same one used in hand re-counts. While re-counts in the state are expected to be more credible than in the past, Lomax is anticipating another embodiment of the 1998 recount.
"I'm not sure if there will be re-counts or litigation I almost find it more likely that there will be litigation. Both parties may disagree on how you count provisional votes."
Provisional votes are ballots voters can cast if they aren't registered. To defend and contest that right for voters, out of state attorneys have come, but it's not a legal team from Washington like in 1998, this year hundreds of attorneys are gearing up to greet voters at the polls.
Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR
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