Nevada Senate race remains close as officials say it may take several days to finish count

About 80% of the vote has been tallied in Nevada where the Senate race could decide control of the chamber. Republican Adam Laxalt has an extremely narrow lead over Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, but election officials warn it may take several more days until all the mail ballots have been tallied. Jon Ralston of the Nevada Independent joined Amna Nawaz to discuss the race.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As ballots continue to be counted in several key races nationwide., Amna Nawaz is back with a look at one matchup that could decide control of the U.S. Senate.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right, Judy.

    About 80 percent of the vote has been tallied in Nevada in that Senate race. Republican Adam Laxalt currently has an extremely narrow lead, but election officials warned it may take several more days until all the mail ballots have been tallied.

    Joining me to discuss that race and more is Jon Ralston of The Nevada Independent. He has been following the count.

    Jon, welcome back to the "NewsHour." Always good to have you.

    Help us understand. Now, we know every state is different, but why is Nevada counting more slowly than other states?

  • Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent:

    Well, I think it's the volume of the mail ballots.

    We just went to a "everyone gets a mail ballot" state in 2020 because of the pandemic, and then the Democratic-controlled legislature cemented that into law last year. And so there are tens of thousands of mail ballots to count. And the law says that any mail ballot that is postmarked on Tuesday or before can be counted, and it can be counted for four days after the election, so up until 5:00 on Saturday.

    So that's what's taking so long. It's a painstaking process, where they have to verify the signatures before they can count the ballot. And if there's a problem with the signature, they have to take it out and allow a voter to do what's called curing the ballot.

    So it's a complicated and somewhat elongated process.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    So, what does that mean for a timeline ahead? When do you expect to see results?

  • Jon Ralston:

    You're asking the same question, of course, I ask myself every day and everyone is asking right now.

    We are getting results on a daily basis, but they are piecemeal, right? And so there may be 15,000 or 20,000 released tonight from Clark County, which is where Las Vegas is, and maybe a similar number from Washoe County, which is where Reno is, but we are not going to have a real handle on the Senate race probably until at least Saturday, as I mentioned, when the deadline is at 5:00.

    But people can still cure their ballots, that is, fix their mail ballots, up until a couple of days later. So, if this is really close, and it could be, we won't know until next week what the results are.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    All right, let me get your take on some of these statewide races, though, that have yet to be called, because they are pretty tight for all, Senate, governor and secretary of state.

    Start in the Senate for me. You have got the Republican, Adam Laxalt, challenging the incumbent Democrat, Catherine Cortez Masto. How do you see this shaping up?

  • Jon Ralston:

    Well, it looks as if Catherine Cortez Masto is going to continue to eat into Adam Laxalt's 16,000-vote lead statewide.

    The real question is, can she eat into it enough through those mail ballots we just talked about, which have been overwhelmingly in her favor so far, to get past that 16,000-vote mark, knowing too that Laxalt is going to gain a few thousand more votes, because rural Nevada, which is very red, is going to help him a bit?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    What about that governor's race? You have got the Republican, Joe Lombardo, and the Democrat, Steve Sisolak. What's happening there?

  • Jon Ralston:

    Well, if Catherine Cortez Masto doesn't have much margin for error to catch up to Adam Laxalt, Steve Sisolak, the governor, has even less to catch up to the sheriff of Clark County, the Republican candidate, Joe Lombardo. He's twice as far behind, and he has been running behind Catherine Cortez Masto in the vote totals.

    I think it is a real long shot for Steve Sisolak to catch up.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And this secretary of state race, a lot of folks have been paying close attention to.

    The Democrat, Cisco Aguilar, is running against a Republican, Jim Marchant, who is an outright election denier. We have seen a lot of those folks losing their races in other states. Do you see that happening in Nevada?

  • Jon Ralston:

    I do.

    Jim Marchant is a few thousand votes ahead right now. But there's so many ballots left the count, that it is almost a certainty that Cisco Aguilar is going to catch up to Jim Marchant, who is a very, very dangerous guy who believes in all kinds of kooky stuff, QAnon and Mike Lindell kinds of stuff. And I think Aguilar is going to come back and win that race.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Jon Ralston, very few people know Nevada politics better than you.

    So, in the minute or so we have left what has been your single biggest takeaway, when you look at what's been happening so far in this cycle?

  • Jon Ralston:

    Well, listen, the takeaway here in Nevada, I think, is similar to the rest of the country, in which the Republicans had very, very high hopes of a deep red wave.

    Remember, there were three Democratic House seats in play here in Nevada, and the Democrats are going to hold all three of those seats. They were pretty certain they were going to take the governor's seat and the U.S. Senate race. And it looks like they may only get a split, although it's possible they could get both, but they are not going to win all the constitutional offices, and they are not going to take control of the legislature.

    So I think that the deep red wave that was forecast by a lot of Republicans here in Nevada has not come to pass.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Meanwhile, the votes continue to be counted, and we will continue to follow those races, key races, in Nevada.

    Jon Ralston of The Nevada Independent, thank you. Always good to have you with us.

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