(AP) – Heading into this year’s midterms, the elections director in the largest county in one of the most important battleground states had a lot on his mind.
A Nevada’s new law A mail-in ballot would have to be received from every voter, new processes would be in place to count all those ballots after Election Day, and people would have to be confident that the count would be accurate.
And that was it: breakfast and lunch.
Joe Gloria, the registrar of voters in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, knew he had to figure out how to feed his staff so they wouldn’t leave the office while the votes were being counted. It was another fallout of lies about the 2020 presidential election, like before President Donald Trump and his allies made false claims of extensive fraud in Nevada and lost five other battlefield states.
Gloria and her workers have come under threats as Nevada, and Clark County in particular, has become a hotbed of conspiracy theories stemming from false claims.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, a month before she resigned as Clark County Register, Gloria was largely silent about Nevada’s high turnover of election officials, the need for more statewide election training and details of threats and harassment she faced while on the job.
“Over the years, I guess I’ve developed something of a shell,” he said on Zoom.
Gloria said protesters stood within 100 feet (about 30 meters) of her office door, some armed, as she and her staff counted 2020 ballots. He received terrifying emails and messages: “We know where you live” and “We know where your family sleeps” – read some of them.
Much of his staff’s harassment depended on how long they could park in the building. The longer the walk to the building, the more likely they were to be noticed and chased, so coming back from lunch break became a maddening experience.
“You even turn around and find out if someone took their spot on purpose,” Gloria said of the parking lot near the elections office. “And they expected a long walk to humiliate them.”
To prevent a repeat and reduce anxiety among her employees, Gloria provided money earlier this year to provide her employees with breakfast and lunch during the election and ballot counting period so they could avoid going to the parking lot. His office also coordinated with local law enforcement agencies to increase security.
Gloria said her resignation had nothing to do with the threats. Instead, he said that after 28 years in the same office, it was time to start a new chapter.
He plans to start his upcoming job as chief operating officer of the National Association of Election Officials, a national voting organization, where he will conduct election training and advocacy, in part to facilitate a large turnover of election staff.
During the 2020 election and this year’s midterms, Gloria became the face of Nevada’s lengthy vote-counting process, which allows mail-in ballots to be counted if they are mailed on Election Day and received by the office within four days. elections should be accepted.
The Clark County Elections Office has been a center of attention because many of the top races in Nevada are decided by them. narrow margins — and the county has nearly three-quarters of Nevada’s registered voters. This year, the race for the U.S. Senate seat wasn’t decided until about a week after Election Day, after Clark County had nearly finished processing its late ballots.
“I’ve always been the calm in the storm and I’ve tried to be that way, and I’ve tried to teach my staff that way,” Gloria said.
He said his office is fortunate to be financially supported by the county, while acknowledging that not all counties in Nevada are able to do so. Most election officials, especially county clerks in rural states, are “underpaid, underappreciated and expected to be knowledgeable in a few areas.” It includes marriage licenses, notaries, city records, and in some cases, budgets.
Ten of the state’s 17 counties saw changes in clerk or registrar of voters positions. from the 2020 election. More than half of the election department in the secretary of state’s office was also caught during this period, the result of exhaustion and better opportunities elsewhere.
Gloria said it would be her responsibility The new Secretary of State, Democrat Cisco Aguilar, to find more opportunities for education and to create a mentoring culture. He said the state needs more training because of the mass resignations in Nevada’s local election departments.
“It’s an uphill battle that they have at the state level,” Gloria said. “But it’s important to the future of elections in the state of Nevada.”
A county clerk resigned after two decades when her county commission unanimously called her out. counting voting machines in favor of full manual counting – a plan that was changed due to lawsuits after hiring a new staff member who had previously rejected the results of the 2020 presidential election. Another longtime local election official because of it repeated death threats. Another decided not to run for re-election because of the rise of election conspiracies, new voting laws and a list of other duties that made him feel bad. burned in the village office, which received little money to adapt to new requirements.
Clark and other county election departments have been scrambling to adapt to new voting laws passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature during the pandemic that have since become permanent, particularly a law requiring each county to provide each voter with Sign up to send email newsletters. Only half of Nevada voters used mail-in ballots this year, returning them through the postal service, returning them through drop-off boxes or dropping them off at polling stations.
Gloria won money to travel to Colorado and see how the various counties were adapting to widespread mail-in voting there. The county also paid for a new facility to help process and count mail-in ballots.
Gloria joined Clark in 2013 after 18 years in various roles throughout the department. Before coming to Nevada, he worked as a voting machine technician in New Mexico.
He happened to work in the election office by accident. She went into a New Mexico county clerk’s office to get a marriage license when the clerk, a friend and neighbor, said she needed a job after she got married.
“I said, ‘You’re right,'” Gloria recalled. “But let’s get the license today. And I’ll show up on Monday.”
Now seen as a leading election expert nationally, Gloria develops training programs for the National Association of Election Officials. He said he would be willing to work with Aguilar, who wants to make harassment or intimidation of election workers a felony and denounce the election conspiracies that have spread across the state.
Gloria said she decided to retire about a year ago. His position is held by the Clark County Board of Commissioners.
“I thank God that I am not going to be forced out of this office because of desperation or anyone,” he said. “I left because it was time for me to go.”
Stern is a member of the Associated Press/Reporting Corps for America’s Statehouse News Initiative. Reporting for America is a national nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.
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