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Federal Official Questions Nevada Site Election Glitch

Committee on House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil queried Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar on a state website malfunction. The site showed mail-in ballots had been submitted for the presidential primary when they hadn’t.

Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar speaks to people at a policy event.
Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar speaks with attendees of a policy discussion event at UNLV on Jan. 26, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal/TNS)
Ellen Schmidt/TNS
The chairman of a U.S. House committee sent a letter to Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar asking him to explain how the recent glitches to the state elections’ website occurred.

“Americans deserve to have confidence in their elections, which means a transparent election system where mistakes are identified and corrected,” said Committee on House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., in a Monday statement.

Over President’s Day weekend, the secretary of state’s website glitched, showing in some Nevadans’ online voter history that they had submitted a mail ballot for the Feb. 6 presidential primary even if they didn’t.

Aguilar apologized for the confusion the glitches caused, and his staff explained in a memo how the discrepancies occurred. When counties updated their voter registration numbers, there was a miscommunication with code between the county and state systems, which had caused the website to display inaccurate information.

“No voter should ever look at the Secretary of State’s website and see inaccurate information,” Aguilar said in a February statement. “This was a technical error that should not have happened, resulting from a patchwork, bottom-up voter registration system that has long needed to be replaced.”

Aguilar’s office did not have a new comment to share with the Review-Journal on Thursday.

Steil, who oversees the committee that has oversight on the country’s federal elections, wrote in the letter that he is concerned about the coding errors in files used to update voter registration history during the presidential primary.

“While I am pleased to hear that the errors likely had no impact on the reported results of the primary election, incidents like these not only undermine public trust, but also jeopardize the foundational principles of freedom, fairness, and security of our electoral systems,” Steil wrote in the letter.

Americans do not need a “zero-mistake system” in order to have confidence in elections, but a system where mistakes are identified and corrected, Steil wrote.

“With the proper procedures in place to find and correct election errors, voters will have the confidence necessary to have faith in the election results,” he wrote. “Furthermore, as we approach the general election in November, voters need the confidence that this error will not repeat itself.”

Steil asked Aguilar to provide a response by March 22 that includes what the office has learned from the coding error and ensure that all election officials take proper steps, further train them on nightly voter registration update protocols, and minimize further errors during the state’s transition to its new voter registration database.

The state will launch its Voter Registration and Election Management Solution project in April ahead of the June primary. It will serve as a centralized statewide voter registration database and will move away from each county submitting different files from different systems into a single statewide file. The new system, known as VREMS, aims to improve speed and accuracy for maintaining voter rolls and to reduce the manual administrative processes.

At an energetic Elko County Commission meeting Wednesday when the commission was hearing a proposal to move to hand counting paper ballots, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Di Chiara fielded questions from concerned Elko residents about the glitches and election security overall, with many taking issues with the state’s use of Dominion voting machines.

“Presidents’ Day weekend was not fun for any of us,” Di Chiara said in the meeting. The glitches reduced faith in the state’s elections administration, and the office worked to get the issues resolved and explain what happened, Di Chiara said. At no point was any data inaccurate; the only issue was with the message displayed on the website, he said.

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