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Elections –

Why Election Laws Protect the Premature Release of Election Data

by Tracey Hilton-Thomas

There are valid reasons why election data must not be shared before the last ballot is cast.

Voter Privacy

Releasing detailed information about the number of early voters leads to the identification of individual voters and places an unfair target on voters who have not voted. Voter privacy is a fundamental aspect of democratic elections, and laws are in place to safeguard this privacy.

Washoe County Reporting and Statistics

Washoe County Early Voting Reports

Guard Against Election Interference

Releasing early voting data has been exploited by bad actors to interfere with the election process. One example is the use of the data to target specific groups with misinformation campaigns or to manipulate turnout on election day.

Level Playing Field

By withholding early voting turnout data, election officials maintain a level playing field for all candidates and political parties. If one candidate or party has access to this data, it gives them an advantage in their campaign strategies.

Avoid Voter Suppression

When early voting turnout data shows low turnout in certain areas, it can discourage voters in those regions from going to the polls on election day, suppressing overall voter participation. If voters believe a particular party is winning, they may feel discouraged from voting, assuming their vote will not make a difference. This is suppression of voter turnout and undermines the democratic process.

Accuracy and Integrity

Releasing partial or unofficial results before receiving all ballots leads to errors and discrepancies that are difficult to correct later.

To address these concerns and uphold the principles of a free and fair election, it is imperative election officials refrain from releasing election results, including early voting turnout, until the voting process is completed, ALL votes (including mail ballots) have been counted and verified, and the results have been officially certified.

(Tracey is a 2024 candidate for Washoe County Commission District 4 to bring trust and transparency back into our local government. She is committed to rebuilding our elections department to meet NRS standards, expanding services for our seniors and veterans, and ensuring law enforcement resources are matching community growth.)

(The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Nevada Signal.)