Nevada ACLU asks for probe into ‘partisan’ hand count of mail-in ballots

Interim Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf speaks on the phone outside of a building where early votes are being counted Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Pahrump, Nev. Ballot counting began in the county where officials citing concerns about voting machine conspiracy theories pressed forward with an unprecedented hand tally of votes cast by mail in advance of Election Day. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The ACLU of Nevada says it filed a complaint with the state’s secretary of state on Wednesday alleging “coordinated partisan election administration” during a hand count of ballots in Nye County.

The rural county had begun hand counting early ballots late last month in response to conspiracy theories about voting machines there, but the ACLU and other groups have challenged the move in court, and Nevada’s secretary of state told the county last week it must temporarily stop the hand count.

The ACLU of Nevada alleged in its new complaint that one of its observers watching the then-active hand count was removed from an observation room by an armed individual initially thought to be a county employee.

The group alleged it has since discovered the individual was Laura Larsen, the vice chair of the county GOP’s central committee, who also demanded the ACLU observer turn over her notes.

“Nye County’s actions during this election, including the disastrous failure that was its attempt at hand counting paper ballots, exceed the bounds of normalcy and decency,” ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar Haseebullah said in a statement.

“A partisan official from the Nye County GOP Central Committee given free range to roam the halls and remove those engaging in observation violates the core principles underlying free and safe elections and makes an even greater mockery of our democracy,” he continued. “We fully anticipate a swift and thorough investigation into Nye County’s actions by the Secretary of State.”

The Hill has reached out to the Nye County GOP, the Nye County clerk and the Nevada secretary of state’s office for comment.

Nye County, which has a population of about 50,000 and is located between Las Vegas and Reno, has been at the forefront of a push to hand count ballots following unfounded conspiracies of mass electoral fraud in the 2020 election.

Republican Mark Kampf, who has without evidence claimed former President Trump won the election, began overseeing the county’s elections as clerk this summer after his veteran predecessor departed amid the conspiracy push.

Kampf has looked to conduct parallel machine and hand count tabulations in the rural county, but the ACLU of Nevada and other groups filed lawsuits opposing the move.

Soon after the hand counting began, Nevada’s secretary of state instructed the county to cease the process immediately until after polls close on Election Day, citing prohibitions on the early release of voting results following a ruling by the state’s supreme court.

Nevada is a critical battleground state in next week’s midterm elections. 

Incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) faces a tough re-election battle against Republican Adam Laxalt. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) also is expected to see a close re-election race against Joe Lombardo (R).

Tags 2022 midterms ACLU hand count Nevada Nye County Senate — Tag: 2022 Midterms Senate
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