By Katy Owens Hubler and Michael Hernandez
The warehouse that houses Clark County’s election department may not have the lights and glitz of the nearby Las Vegas strip, but it is no less awe-inspiring.
Walking through aisle upon aisle of voting machines, folding tables, and other polling place supplies brought to mind the last scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled to its place in a giant warehouse. In this warehouse, however, there is no lost ark (or anything else). Everything is meticulously labeled, organized, locked, sealed and under constant video surveillance.
Clark County, Nev., which includes Las Vegas, is the 12th most populous county in the country and was the latest stop in NCSL’s Elections Technology Project. It is the largest jurisdiction we’ve visited so far and contains:
- 797,497 active registered voters
- 7,891 square miles
- 4,500 touchscreen voting machines
- 4 high volume optical scanners to count mail ballots
- 112,000 square foot facility
- 34 full-time employees (supplemented by an additional 100 temporary employees during large elections)
- 2,200 poll workers (including 540 county employees)
- 274 polling places
In large jurisdictions such as this, the election administrator wears many hats. Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria does more than just register voters. He also acts as a kind of human resource manager, public administrator, IT manager and logistics manager of an operation that rivals an Amazon distribution center. The level of security at the site is impressive—key cards, fingerprint access, passwords, traditional keys, logs and cameras—are all used to secure the integrity of the election.
That close-up view of an efficient system framed a voting technology discussion for some of Nevada’s legislators who craft elections policy, state staffers who provide legislative guidance and several elections administrators who implement state laws.
Nevada Senator Debbie Smith (D), NCSL's president-elect, welcomed the group by asking it to consider the resources, planning and technology required to keep elections running smoothly in Nevada.
Over the course of the day the group discussed how to invest in efficient and long-lasting voting technology and strategized how to craft laws that would help local officials administer elections.
Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford (D) said he was pleased to learn the role voting technology plays in the elections process and how those systems can help his constituents in Las Vegas, some of whom have had few opportunities to use computers and other devices.
“I’m happy that I attended this event because I gained a lot of knowledge,” Munford said. “There was a lot of information presented today that I was not aware of. I know that we will have a lot of things we can weigh in on and share with the committee in our next session.”
Katy Owens Hubler and Michael Hernandez are elections policy specialists at NCSL.