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Nevada Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Stop County’s Hand-Count

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected a request to halt the hand counting of ballots in a rural county.

The hand count began after all ballots cast in the midterms were tabulated with machines and is essentially an audit, which is not allowed under state law, the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union argued in an emergency motion on Monday.

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“Unless enjoined by this Court, this hand count will set a dangerous precedent for future elections by encouraging local officials to make up and implement their own vote counting processes that violate voters’ constitutional right to an accurate election ‘as provided by law,’” the group said.

All six justices on the state’s highest court disagreed and denied the petition.

“The court noted that the hand count was approved by the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, according to a response to the emergency motion from Interim Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf. County officials also differed on what state law allows, saying a hand count that is not an audit or recount is not ‘expressly prohibited’ by the law,” the Epoch Times reported.

“Having reviewed the petition and answer, we conclude that the petitioner has not demonstrated that our extraordinary intervention is warranted at this time. Petitioner has pointed to no law clearly prohibiting the parallel hand count or precluding any post-deadline revision to secondary vote-counting plans approved by the Secretary,” the Nevada justices wrote.

“Further, the petitioner did not name the Secretary as a party to this original proceeding essentially challenging her actions or inactions in enforcing the election laws. Under these circumstances, we decline to exercise our discretion to consider this writ petition, and we ORDER the petition DENIED,” they added.

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Nye County officials said in a statement: “Nye County is pleased with yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling and looks forward to completing the hand count as approved by the Secretary of State. Although the County has been happy to follow the guidance from and respect the decisions of the Supreme Court, it seems as if the ACLU holds itself to a different standard. So, we are glad the Court has invalidated this most recent attempt to thwart the hand count, given the Court had clearly indicated previously that crafting a compliant hand count process was something for the County and the Secretary of State to work out (and not the ACLU).”

“Nye County started hand counting ballots before the Nov. 8 midterms, enacting a plan approved by the county’s Board of Commissioners, but stopped on orders from Cegavske, who said the hand count could not resume until after polls closed, according to a letter obtained by The Epoch Times,” the outlet reported.

“On Nov. 4, Cegavske asked for more details of the plan to mitigate significant risks to integrity. County workers resumed the count two days after the midterms. The hand count would be compared to the machine count, Kampf, another Republican, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He said he hoped voters would gain confidence from the results being double-checked,” the outlet added.

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Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf told News 3 last week that the Secretary of State’s office has approved the county’s revised procedures.

“And matter of fact, we had been working with them all along, and trying to come up with a process that is tested and effective,” he said. “And I’ve worked with them, and I’ve committed to providing them with feedback to help improve the permanent regulations, should they decide to put them in place.”

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“Kampf tried to undertake a hand count of ballots before Election Day, but the ACLU of Nevada filed a lawsuit over those plans as well. The Nevada Supreme Court sided with the ACLU, and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske ordered Nye County last month to halt hand-counting ballots,” the outlet added.

“Nye County officials revised their plans and said they would wait until after Election Day to undertake a hand count. The county says the hand count is a secondary method for counting ballots and will not be used to report election results,” the outlet continued.

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