ACLU’s challenge to manually count Nevada ballots rejected

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Nye County District Court judge on Thursday denied an emergency motion from the Nevada chapter of the ACLU attempting to block the county from its plan to count votes by hand at sides of an automatic tab from the end of the month. The plan was spurred by false allegations of voter fraud.

The case was dismissed mainly for technical reasons. Fifth District Court Judge Kimberly Wanker said the ACLU did not provide a publicly available recording or transcript of the Nye County Board of Commissioners meeting mentioned in the organization’s petition. The judge said it was unreasonable for the court to access the video and watch a 7 hour and 23 minute video to find a presentation on the plan. She also stated that there was no certificate of service on file indicating that the respondents had received an emergency motion.

The ACLU will file a new petition in the Nevada Supreme Court on Friday seeking to block the manual count, Executive Director Athar Haseebullah said.

Nye County is one of the first jurisdictions in the country to act on election conspiracies linked to distrust of voting machines.

The county plans to begin manually counting mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day, which the ACLU said in its lawsuit risks making early voting results public. He alleges that their method of using a touchscreen tabulator for people with “special needs” illegally allows election workers to ask about a voter’s disability or turn down otherwise eligible voters on the basis of of « arbitrary decision-making, » and that Nye County’s wording of « special needs » is ambiguous. The organization also argues that the county’s « rigorous signature verification, » which allows the clerk to require an ID card if a voter’s signature fails, violates state law.

Mark Kampf, the acting Nye County clerk implementing the hand count, declined to comment on the lawsuit or its dismissal. He said in an email that the county plans to do its manual count before Election Day.

Nye County officials originally planned to use manual counting as their primary method of counting votes, but made it secondary to automatic counting, allowing them to avoid new state regulations governing this practice.

Kampf called on Dominion voting machines that he will use a “stop-gap” measure while the county decides how to handle tallies for future elections, potentially without machines at all.

Several Nye County commissioners said a presentation by GOP Secretary of State candidate Jim Marchant, a 2020 election denier, convinced them to call for a manual count of all mail-in ballots. Marchant is a member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition which peddles false allegations of voter fraud and advocates for voter identification, same-day voting, paper ballots, and the elimination of mail-in ballots .

Standing next to former President Donald Trump at a rally in the Nevada countryside last week, Marchant said if his coalition is elected, “we will fix the whole country. And President Trump will be President again in 2024.”

Haseebullah said the ACLU would also file challenges on behalf of Nye County voters if issues arise from manual counting – part of an « ongoing battle, likely for the next few years to come ».


Stern is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.

Gabe Stern, Associated Press


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