Clark County election officials scrambled late Tuesday to retrieve the electronic ballots of 127 voters left behind when polls closed at the Las Vegas Academy.
Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said Wednesday the cartridges where the data was stored were retrieved but not before delaying by several hours the release of vote totals for races in the primary election.
He said that all of the votes were counted and he was confident that the cartridges were not tampered with between the voting station’s closure and their recovery.
“At no time was there any chance those votes could have been in jeopardy,” Gloria said.
He said that federal law requires redundancy paths, or backups, to be in place to ensure votes can be retrieved if cartridges are lost or damaged.
The ballots cast at the school were backed up both electronically and on paper, which means poll workers were able to cross-reference the backups to ensure the cartridges had not been tampered with.
The cartridges were sealed before they were left behind and were still sealed when they were retrieved, he said.
There is a cartridge within each voting booth, and there were five booths at the school.
“Everything was balanced,” Gloria said. “Everything was reported correctly.”
When polls close, workers are instructed to break down booths and collect cartridges, according to the closing handbook given to team leaders and poll workers.
Workers then record that they have collected the cartridges, seal them and lock them into their designated transfer cases, ready for transport.
All of those procedures were completed, Gloria said. But there was a misunderstanding at the academy as to who should transport the cartridges back to the election warehouse — where county votes are recorded and totals are confirmed — and they were left behind.
“At the end of the night, we run a report to ensure we received all cartridges,” Gloria said, but poll workers determined the mistake manually “well before the system told us we didn’t have the cartridges.”
When the mistake was realized, Gloria said, “We had to make arrangements with the Clark County School District to reopen the facility because it had been locked up,” which added to the delay.
“We met them there. We found the cartridges where they were supposed to be (still sealed), and we read them into the system.”
Gloria reiterated that the county’s system has been federally certified.
“A mistake was made. There’s no such thing as a perfect world. If they were out in the open or they got lost, we’d still have a redundant data path to reproduce those votes.”
Other delays from various precincts prevented about 20 percent of votes from being reported until after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, although the delay at the academy was the most significant.