The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans asked a state judge on Friday to stop counting Las Vegas-area mail-in ballots as the president and his supporters continue to question the safety and validity of those votes.
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A lawsuit filed in state court less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election claims that observers haven’t been allowed close enough to workers and machines at vote-counting centers to assess processing.
The suit alleges that there may be an absence of “meaningful observation” of signature-checking in the state’s biggest and most Democratic-leaning county.
Judge James Wilson in Carson City declined to issue an immediate order to stop the count, but scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on the request.
“There has been great concern whether the rolls are clean and properly registered voters are the ones receiving ballots, signing them and mailing them back,” Trump for President Nevada co-chairman Adam Laxalt said, according to reports by the Associated Press. “All we want is to be part of the signature verification process and the ability to challenge a mail-in signature.”
The lawsuit alleges Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria failed to get proper approval in April from Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske for his plan to accommodate observers. It seeks a court order to “prohibit … processing and counting ballots until the proper procedures are in place.”
It also claims a GOP offer to install video monitoring equipment at the Clark County election headquarters was rejected.
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Laxalt, a former Nevada attorney general, said the small margin of votes that has been rejected this year also seems suspicious, even though data collected from 2016 shows similar rates of rejected ballots.
In 2016, Nevada counties reported that 1.6% of absentee ballots returned were rejected, according to data collected by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Nationally, about 1% of absentee ballots cast were rejected that year.
But Laxalt says: “It’s hard to believe there’s only a 1% rejection rate,” citing state election data showing that more than 98% of the 190,000 mailed ballots received to date in Clark County had been accepted as valid. He noted that once a signature is verified, no campaign can challenge that vote.
Scrimmages about voting issues have plagued this election season, with Republicans challenging mail-in ballot deadlines, which Democrats have argued are necessary due to the influx of mail-in votes triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans also have taken issue with the process by which absentee ballots are being collected across different states.
State Democrats called the lawsuit a “plain and simple” effort to suppress votes in the state’s most diverse county. The U.S. Census puts the Clark County population at more than 31% Hispanic, 13% Black and about 10% Asian American.
“Throughout this election, Trump and Republicans have resorted to baseless attacks to undermine confidence in Nevada’s election integrity,” the Democratic Party statement said.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.