Lorena Portillo, Registrar of Voters at the Clark County Elections Office, speaking to journalists during a tour of the facility.

Las Vegas: In the United States, the responsibility for conducting elections lies primarily at the local level. States, counties, and cities are tasked with the organisation and administration of elections, including those for national positions.

In 2024, the state of Nevada a key battleground – and potential bellwether – for the 2024 presidential election, holding three elections: the presidential preference primary election (held in February), their local primary in June, and the general election in November. 

The Clark County Registrar’s office is responsible for managing the county’s elections for the 1,401,255 registered voters. They not only conduct the election and tabulate the results, but work to ensure community engagement, understanding, and involvement in the electoral process, regardless of political ideology. 

A group of journalists from 20 different countries recently had the opportunity to engage first-hand with the electoral process in Clark County, Nevada, as the United States gears up for its upcoming elections.

This journalist was nominated by the US embassy in Doha for the Foreign Press Center facilitated reporting tour titled ‘Democracy is More Than Election Day.’ 

Clark County Elections Office’s Registrar of Voters, Lorena Portillo, presented details of the county elections office’s critical functions during a tour of the facility.

“We have over 1.4 million voters that we serve. And we have about 46 permanent employees that put on the elections for the whole county,” said Portillo who has been serving since 1998.

“This year is one of the busiest. We just held the presidential preference primary in the state of Nevada,” she added.

“We have in-person voting and mail ballot voting and we are required to conduct our elections in English, Spanish and Filipino,” said Portillo.

She noted that besides orchestrating the elections and tallying outcomes, the registrar’s mandate includes galvanising community involvement and fostering comprehension and participation across the political spectrum.

Portillo remarked that mail ballot voting has become increasingly popular among the voters in the past four years.

“Before only about 50,000 folks would vote by mail. Now we have over 450,000 that vote by mail, so votes by mail have become increasingly much more popular than in person,” she said adding that all mail ballots are secured.

Critical tasks such as ballot extraction, signature verification, and ballot adjudication are all carried out under the watchful eye of bipartisan teams, reinforcing the nonpartisan sanctity of the voting process.

About 30 to 35 sites will be available for voting every single day during election time and citizens can take advantage of 14 days of the early voting.

“Those 14 days give voters an opportunity to vote at their convenience at different locations throughout the county,” said Portillo adding that more than 128 sites will be operating throughout the whole county on Election Day.

Since 2022 Poll Pads have been used for a seamless electronic voter check-in and verification process at Clark County.

Portillo said that the machines and process of tabulating the votes are closely monitored and regularised.

“We work with local officials to ensure that we meet before every election to find out what the vulnerabilities are during the election cycle. By law, the equipment that tabulates the votes is tested and each machine is certified,” she said.

“There are many preparations that happen during and before an election cycle, even after Election Day we certify that the machine is actually working as it should,” she said, adding that the strong cyber security system will ensure a smooth safe election process.

In the US electoral system, a county is a geographic and political subdivision within a state. Counties are responsible for various administrative functions within their jurisdiction, including elections.

In presidential elections, each county typically conducts its own voting process, tallying votes and reporting results. While the popular vote within a county may influence the outcome of the state’s electoral votes, it is important to note that the Electoral College system ultimately determines the election outcome at the national level.

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