GOP elections chief mum as Democrats defend Nevada vote
LAS VEGAS (AP) — While President Donald Trump has escalated his legal battle over the election in Nevada and sought to contest its results, the Republican official in charge of supervising the state’s vote has stayed quiet.
Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who has kept a low profile since Trump launched a series of legal challenges in Nevada, has not issued any statements since the president’s campaign contested the results of the state’s vote Tuesday.
Her office said Wednesday that she was unavailable for an interview and declined to respond to emailed questions about Trump asking a judge to overturn or throw out the Nevada results, along with claims from his lawyers that the results “lacked integrity.”
Cegavske spokeswoman Jennifer Russell said the secretary of state would not comment because of the lawsuit.
Other elected officials, all Democrats, defended the election process.
State Attorney General Aaron Ford said evidence shows Nevada held fair, safe and secure elections and that there was no widespread voter fraud. Ford said in a statement that his office would prosecute “any isolated and substantiated incidents of voter fraud.”
Ford said Trump’s team never filed an official complaint and supporting evidence with his office, despite being explicitly invited to do so.
The Trump campaign has filed multiple lawsuits in Nevada to try to stop the widespread mailing of ballots and then the counting of mailed ballots, but none have succeeded.
The battle escalated Tuesday, when campaign lawyers filed a lawsuit and declared to reporters that Trump won Nevada despite results showing he lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden by 33,596 votes.
“We’re quite confident in the fact that when the law and the facts are clearly adjudicated in this matter, that it will be very clear that once all the voting happened, once everything occurred, the results were unreliable because of the irregularities and the fraud,” campaign attorney Jesse Binnall said.
Despite challenges to vote counts nationwide from Trump’s campaign and his allies, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. The issues they have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in key battleground states, none of those issues would have any impact on the outcome of the election.
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, pushed back on the Trump campaign’s claims.
“The results from the election are clear: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris came out ahead in Nevada, and President Trump will not be able to overturn the will of Nevada’s voters with unfounded lawsuits like this one,” Rosen said in a statement. “Our democratic elections are safe, fair, and secure, with no credible evidence of voter fraud.”
The lawsuit rehashes some arguments that judges in Nevada and elsewhere have rejected. It claims that votes were cast on behalf of dead people, that election observers weren’t allowed to witness “key points” of processing and that people on American Indian reservations were illegally given incentives to vote.
Binnall said he can prove votes were tainted by the use of an optical scanning machine to process ballots in the Las Vegas area and by voting machine malfunctions and that illegal ballots were cast by people living out of state or not registered voters. He didn’t immediately offer any evidence.
Trump’s campaign previously claimed it had identified more than 3,000 people who “improperly” cast ballots in Nevada because they live elsewhere, but voting rights activists say hundreds of people on the list appear to be linked to the U.S. military.
A hearing on the new lawsuit was not immediately set by a judge in Carson City. Time is short, with the state Supreme Court scheduled Tuesday to certify the Nevada election.
Meanwhile, all 17 Nevada counties certified canvasses of their votes by a Wednesday deadline set by state law, according to Cegavske’s office.
Before the lawsuit was announced, Cegavske said in a news release that her role certifying election returns is ministerial and that after the state high court certifies the count as complete, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak will certify the election.
In a separate legal challenge, a hearing was scheduled for Friday in Las Vegas in a lawsuit from conservative former state lawmaker Sharron Angle and her Election Integrity Project seeking to block statewide certification of the election.