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Livestream Cameras Capturing Vote-Count Area Go Dark, Take 8 Hours to Come Back Online

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Whether or not you consider Tuesday’s midterm elections a red wave, a red puddle or a purple splash, the results for Republicans have largely been good.

Republicans flipped some key seats, including some that haven’t been red for decades.

Was it as dominant of a win as the GOP had likely hoped for? Probably not.

Is a majority in the House and Senate still very much in play for Republicans? You bet it is.

Given all the above, it’s little surprise that all eyes, both Democrat and Republican, are fixated on the key remaining races, particularly in the Senate.

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By all indications, the Senate majority looks like it will come down to Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

While Democrats were clinging to slim leads in Arizona and Georgia on Friday (the latter of which will have a runoff election on Dec. 6), an upset appeared to be brewing in the Nevada Senate race.

Republican Adam Laxalt, whom polls showed to be several points behind for much of the campaign, had a slim lead over incumbent Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro on Friday morning.

That’s good, if you’re rooting for a GOP majority.

Do you think the election in Nevada was secure?

However, controversy reared its ugly head when a camera issue caused all manner of speculation to run rampant about the Nevada race.

That’s bad, regardless of your political affiliation.

Washoe County had been running livestream cameras to show the vote counting taking place at its complex in Reno. On Wednesday night, those cameras inexplicably went dark, and they remained so until Thursday morning, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“We know that our election livestream cameras went dark overnight,” the county tweeted Thursday. “We investigated what happened and how to prevent it happening again.”

In a linked news release, Washoe County spokeswoman Bethany Drysdale said, “The livestream computer application lost connection with the courtesy cameras at 11:24 p.m. the evening of November 9. All staff had left for the night about 60 minutes earlier and did not arrive back at the office until 7 a.m. Connection was restored at 7:53 a.m. the morning of November 10.”

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While you should never extrapolate real life from Twitter, the responses appeared to illustrate the mistrust created by the dark cameras as well as the long, slow vote tabulation.

Adding fuel to the speculative fire, ballots from Washoe County on Wednesday night helped push a Democrat over a GOP candidate for secretary of state:

In an email Q&A with the Reno Gazette Journal, Drysdale said the incident was nothing out of the ordinary. The only reason the cameras were offline for as long as they were was that workers had left for the day, she said.

“The courtesy cameras are connected to a computer application designed for livestream events,” Drysdale said. “They intermittently lose connection with the application. When this has happened before, such as on Election Night when one camera went dark, staff was able to see the disruption and restore it. These cameras are not security or surveillance grade cameras.”

She told the Gazette Journal that nothing untoward happened during the blackout.

“The Washoe County security administrator has reviewed the building’s security cameras,” Drysdale said. “According to the Washoe County security administrator, that footage shows the parking garage, the hallway between the garage, and the entry doors to the Registrar’s Office.

“He has affirmed that no one entered the ballot room or Registrar’s Office during the time that the courtesy livestream was down. Security and Technology Services is working to put that footage into a viewable file that can be provided to the public.

“Staff badge reports have also been pulled to ensure that no one entered the area during that time, with none found.”

The county’s news release included several links to security camera footage.

Interestingly, Drysdale said potential “solutions” to this issue would be to update the software or “simply not offer a courtesy livestream feed.”

At the end of the day, there is no evidence this incident was anything more than a technological hiccup. There is nothing to suggest something nefarious happened in Washoe County.

However, that does not excuse incompetence and a lack of transparency. Those are the two areas in which many voters have lost faith.

The dangers of this kind of incident aren’t limited to malfeasance. It also erodes trust in democracy.

Cameras can easily be fixed.

Trust? Not so much.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Phoenix, Arizona
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