Observers watch as county election workers scan mail-in ballots at a tabulating area at the Clark County Election Department, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Las Vegas. Election officials in key battleground states pushed back on claims by the Trump campaign that Republican poll watchers were being improperly denied access to observe the counting of ballots, saying Thursday that rules were being followed and they were committed to transparency.
LAS VEGAS — With the country turning its attention to Nevada's vote count, Democrat Joe Biden's slim lead over President Donald Trump grew slightly, to more than 11,000 votes, as more results were released Thursday.
Nevada is among four battleground states where votes were still being tabulated as Biden pushes closer to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win the White House.
While no Republican presidential candidate has carried Nevada since 2004, the state has remained a swing state. Trump fell just shy of winning Nevada's six electoral votes in 2016, and this year he campaigned hard in the state hoping for better luck.
In Clark County, which includes three-quarters of the state's population, election officials said workers are counting tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, and the bulk should be counted by the weekend. On top of that, tens of thousands of provisional ballots need to be counted, many of which were cast by people taking advantage of a new law allowing voters to register or update their registration at the polls.
"Our goal here in Clark County is not to count fast. We want to make sure that we're being accurate," Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria said at a news conference in Las Vegas. "The results in the state of Nevada obviously are going to be very important to the entire country, and that is our number one goal."
He said the large number of mail-in ballots is new to Nevada, so the counting process has taken longer than normal. The state mailed ballots to all active registered voters this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, a move that the Trump campaign has challenged, claiming it would lead to fraud.
Unlike some counties in the U.S. where election staff are counting ballots round the clock, Clark County employees are working shifts from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. and counting and verifying mail-in ballots in planned stages, Gloria said.
"The work that comes through on the mail ballot process is very deliberate," he said. "We're not concerned with reading as fast as we can. We're concerned with making sure that we're accurate in what we report."
Gloria said the fact that Nevada's six electoral votes could decide the election reaffirmed the need to not rush the count.
The mail-in ballots being counted Thursday include those that arrived on or before Election Day, along with those postmarked by Tuesday that arrived afterward.
Gloria said he can't predict how many ballots will continue to arrive by mail, but the number is expected to start dwindling. Ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted if they arrive by Tuesday. The last day to count all ballots is Nov. 12.
All in-person ballots cast on Election Day and during two weeks of early voting have been counted and included in results, Gloria said.
The results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina also were tight, with votes still being tabulated.
Nevada election offices have been the site of protests, which have been happening in swing states and other places nationwide. A day after a protester interrupted his press conference, Gloria said Clark County had increased security for him and his staff and begun monitoring cars coming in and out of the vote-counting facility.
Metz reported from Carson City. Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.