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Brennan Center Submits Comment to Nevada Secretary of State on Proposed Hand Count Regulations

The Brennan Center, along with All Voting is Local, ACLU of Nevada and Silver State Voices, urged the Nevada Secretary of State to prohibit hand counts as the primary method of counting ballots where this process cannot guarantee the accuracy and timeliness that state law requires.

Published: August 12, 2022

The Secretary of State issued proposed regulations that outline procedures for hand counting ballots, as a growing number of Nevada counties — in response to false claims about voting machines in the 2020 election — consider abandoning the use of electronic tabulators and adopting hand counts as the primary method for counting all ballots. While a hand count is an important security tool to confirm machine totals are accurate or in a recount, it shouldn’t be used as the primary means of tallying results in elections involving multiple races and large numbers of ballots. A hand count is more likely to introduce human error or missteps into the process, and using a tested electronic tabulator that meets strict standards for accuracy is a more reliable way to make sure each voter’s ballot is counted as cast.

Because of these deficiencies, the use of hand counts in Nevada violates state law that sets minimum standards of accuracy for all voting systems, as well provisions in the Nevada Constitution that protect voters’ right to have their ballot accurately counted and their elections fairly resolved.

Nevada’s voters and state legislature wisely adopted standards into state law to guarantee a fair, accurate, and secure election system. Counties should not be permitted to depart from these standards without a compelling justification that relies on more than unfounded speculation.