Nevada Secretary of State Wants More Election Funding After Presidential Primary “Glitch”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar (D) is calling for more federal funding for elections after a coding “glitch” in the vote tally in the state’s Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) in February. 

An unknown number of voters were erroneously marked down as having voted in the PPP when they didn’t in fact vote. The glitch was fixed and no extra votes were counted, but the incident prompted a letter from U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), chairman of the Committee on House Administration, to Aguilar expressing concern over what led to the glitch. 

In response to Steil’s letter, Aguilar sent a letter on March 22 asking for Congress to provide more federal funding for elections to ensure similar glitches don’t happen again. 

“The most important thing in election administration is skilled, dedicated workers. The second most important thing in election administration is consistent, strategic funding,” Aguilar wrote. “The federal government’s history of funding elections in fits and starts is not in the best interest of the taxpayers.”

The PPP was held on Feb. 6, just two days before the Nevada Republican caucus, and the dueling election events — happening for the first time in the state’s history — put a strain on the state’s new Voter Registration and Election Management System (VREMS), which was specifically created to count the results of the competing Republican election processes. 

Under the system, each night, Nevada counties upload voter registration data that is used to execute code creating the statewide voter registration file that users can see online. Aguilar explained that the coding glitch was the result of extra steps that weren’t taken to verify the accuracy of the system’s voter history.

Though the problem that caused the glitch was identified and fixed, Steil’s letter asked Aguilar to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again for the primary election in June and the general election in November and “restore voter confidence in Nevada’s electoral process.”

Aguilar said that “the need for consistent federal funding of elections cannot be expressed strongly enough.” He added: “Elections are critical infrastructure, they are how our citizenry makes their voices heard, and their security is of paramount importance. When local election officials bring you their very real concerns around resources available for elections, ‘Congress doesn’t have extra money lying around right now’ is not an appropriate response.” 

Read Aguilar’s letter here.

Read Steil’s letter here.