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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone November 16, 2022

Nevada ballot counting livestream went dark, but vote counting wasn’t affected

If Your Time is short

  • A livestream showing ballot processing in Washoe County, Nevada, went dark overnight on Nov. 9.

  • The connection between the cameras and a computer application failed. Since staff had already left for the night when the problem occurred, it wasn’t noticed until the next morning.

  • Officials publicly released eight hours of security footage from that period, which they said showed no one entering the building while the livestream was dark. A review of employee badges that are used to electronically enter the building also showed no one had accessed the building.

A livestream of a county ballot-counting office in Nevada that was set up in the interest of transparency for voters went dark overnight the day after the Nov. 8 election.

The glitch had some on social media falsely accusing election officials of wrongdoing.

"This is one of the ways blue states steal elections," read the text on a video shared Nov. 13 on Instagram, which included footage from a Fox News broadcast about the outage.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

We found multiple social media posts sharing the same concern about the livestream.

But there were no vote-counting shenanigans happening in the dead of night while the livestream was down, according to the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office.

Nevada was a key swing state that ultimately re-elected Democrat U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, helping Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate. The state also elected a Republican governor, Joe Lombardo, who ousted Democratic incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak.

The Washoe County office posted a lengthy explanation on a county website explaining what happened. Essentially, the livestream computer application lost contact with what election officials described as "courtesy cameras" at 11:24 p.m. local time Nov. 9.

All staff had left for the night an hour earlier, and workers returned at 7 a.m. the next morning. The connection to the cameras was restored at 7:53 a.m.

The results of counting Nov. 9 were posted online two hours before the cameras went down, said Bethany Drysdale, a county spokesperson.

So, what happened in that eight-hour gap at the vote-counting site? Evidence suggests nothing. 

The office released eight hours of security camera footage that shows the parking garage, hallway between the garage and building, and entrance to the registrar's office. The Washoe County security administrator said the footage showed that no one entered the ballot room or registrar’s office during that time. Skeptics can download a video player and the videos and watch for themselves.

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The office also checked employee badges that are used to electronically enter the building and none had been used to access the room overnight, Drysdale said.

"There was no vote counting taking place and no irregularities reported in the counting process," Drysdale said.

Drysdale said she knows of no official complaints filed by candidates or voters. Adam Laxalt, Cortez Masto’s Senate challenger, conceded the race Nov. 15 and did not mention the livestream, though he did complain about mail-in voting, The Associated Press reported.

Washoe County began providing an election livestream in the 2018 primary, Drysdale said.

"We were proud to be among the first counties to offer a livestream of elections," she said, saying it began "purely as a courtesy to provide greater transparency in our elections."

"It is not mandated by law. We believe we are still one of the few in Nevada (to have the streams)," she said.

Drysdale said the cameras lost connection with the livestream app a couple of times previously, including during the June primary and early voting in the general election.

"They happened during the day so were easily noticed and remedied," Drysdale said. "This outage happened overnight, and as the feed is not monitored 24/7, it was not noticed by our staff until the next morning."

This was the first election in which the county attempted to livestream 24 hours, seven days a week.

"We now know that our equipment cannot sustain 24/7 streaming," Drysdale said.

She said the office is refreshing the livestream feed every morning until the canvass of the vote Nov. 18, when the election results become final. Then the feed will be taken down.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claimed that a livestream showing cameras in a vote-counting room in Washoe County, Nevada, going down overnight is one of the ways "blue states steal elections."

The livestream did fail when the connection was lost between the cameras and a computer application, officials said. But vote counting had already finished for the night, and security camera footage and a check of employee badges showed that no one entered the vote-counting room during that time, officials said.

The office has made this security footage available to the public to view and it is online for anyone with eight hours to spare. We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived, live), Nov. 14, 2022

Email interview with Bethany Drysdale, spokesperson for Washoe County, Nov. 16, 2022

Washoe County, Nevada, "General Election 2022 | Ballot Processing Livestream" (streaming will end on Nov. 18, 2022)

Washoe County, Nevada, "Washoe County 2022 General Election Unofficial Results"

Washoe Life (a county website), "Registrar of voters livestream cameras," Nov. 10, 2022

Nevada secretary of state, "General election results

The Associated Press, "Trump-backed Nevada GOP Senate candidate concedes loss," Nov. 15, 2022

The Associated Press, "Cortez Masto wins in Nevada, giving Democrats Senate control," Nov. 12, 2022

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Nevada ballot counting livestream went dark, but vote counting wasn’t affected

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