Political organizations, especially Democratic-leaning unions, that spent months urging people to vote in Nevada’s key Senate race are now turning their focus toward “curing” flawed mail-in ballots in the still-uncalled contest.
“Curing” is a process in which voters correct problems with their mail ballot, ensuring that it gets counted. This can mean validating that a ballot is truly from them by adding a missing signature, or by addressing signature-match issues. The deadline for voters to “cure” their ballots in Nevada is Monday, November 14, according to state law.
With the razor-thin margin in the contest between Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, the relatively small universe of ballots that need to be “cured” could make a difference. As of Friday evening, Laxalt led Cortez Masto by about 800 votes.
The Clark County election department registrar announced earlier on Friday that 9,659 ballots were eligible to be cured in the pivotal county, which includes Las Vegas. Officials from Washoe County, which is home to Reno, said they have 1,440 ballots that need to be cured.
The Culinary Union Local 226, which represent roughly 60,000 workers in populous Clark and Washoe counties and is central in Democratic efforts in the state, told CNN they have the “largest cure team in the state,” with Culinary spokeswoman Bethany Khan saying the group has “200 canvassers doing phone bank, door knocking, and employee dining room cures.”
The union, which endorsed Cortez Masto’s campaign and made reelecting her one of their top 2022 priorities, is primarily focused on Culinary workers and their family members who need to cure their ballots. The effort began Thursday and will be “ramping up daily in terms of numbers” of canvassers, Khan said.
“Culinary Union is phone banking and canvassing full-time, organizers are also contacting hospitality workers on their lunch breaks in unionized casino resorts’ Employee Dining Rooms (EDRs) on the Las Vegas Strip,” said union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge. “The Culinary Union is doing everything we can to ensure Nevadans voices are heard and their votes are counted.”
The efforts may be paying off, too.
Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Nevada, tweeted on Friday that he learned that he needed to cure his ballot due to a signature match issue through four calls from the Culinary canvassers over the course of 12 hours.
“My ballot is cured now,” he wrote, thanking “ the beautiful volunteers at Culinary who notified me of such.”
Other Democratic groups are also engaged in the curing effort. Somos Votantes, a political organization founded in 2019 that targeted boosting Latino turnout in Nevada, is reaching out to voters in both Spanish and English and offering to provide transportation to voters who need it.
Emmanuelle Leal-Santillan, a top operative for the group, said they have “a list of people that need to cure their ballots” and that their team is now “calling them” and providing “all the options they have” in both English and Spanish and “offering transportation if needed.”
Republicans are also reportedly engaged in the effort. The party’s National Committee spokeswoman Hallie Balch told The Nevada Independent that the group had a “a duty to inform voters that their ballot needs curing in order to be counted.”
A Republican strategist working in Nevada said the party has “field teams in the state (that) are working overtime reaching out to our voters who need to cure their ballots in an effort to ensure all legally cast votes are counted.”
“They’re calling, texting and knocking doors to help every Nevadan we can,” the strategist said.
According to Clark County’s Election website, curing happens “if a question arises about your signature on the outside of your mail ballot return envelope or if you did not put your signature on the outside of that envelope, the Election Department will notify you using the contact information in your voter registration.”
This story has been updated with additional information.