What Happens In Vegas May Not Stay In Vegas: Why The Nevada Challenge Could Be Important To The Presidential Election

It turns out that some things that happen in Vegas may not stay in Vegas . . . like voting. The Republican Party in the Silver State is now arguing that thousands of votes in the close presidential election were cast by workers who moved out of the state or even by deceased individuals. Various voters reported their deceased relatives receiving live ballots in the mail. Now, the Nevada Republican Party has sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department alleging at least 3,062 instances of voter fraud in the battleground state. The referral is substantially less than the “10,000” referenced earlier but the underlying allegation is still important. The early concern for many of us was that the system established in Clark County would be difficult to review for violations due to how the tabulation was handled and the record preserved. 

The allegations over ineligible voting were raised before Election Day. Many states like Nevada are relying on notoriously outdated voter lists and applying fairly lax standards for confirming the identity of voters for mail-in ballots. In Nevada, this is a particular concern because many workers moved out of the state due to the pandemic’s impact on the casino industry. You cannot vote if you moved out of the state over 30 days prior to the balloting. The problem is the accuracy of state voting and residency records in showing such changes shortly before an election.  Absent a system of authentication of residency and identification, it would be a system based on the honor system – an approach that no casino would allow even at the nickel slots section.

As courts deal with a flurry of lawsuits in various states, I have been focusing on the allegations in Nevada of thousands of ineligible or even deceased voters. That is the type of systemic failure that could cloud results in not just the Silver State but other states.  Nevada was one of the states that I identified before the election as one of three states that I was watching the most closely for election challenges. However, the problems raised in Nevada could raise concerns with shared elements to various states from Michigan to Pennsylvania. The reliance on questionable voter lists and the lack of authentication systems were raised months ago. The legal problem is not simply that such systems may allow for large numbers of ineligible votes but that they would not allow sufficient review of ballots to resolve such questions.

The criminal referral is substantially less than the “10,000” referenced earlier but the underlying allegation is still important. The early concern for many of us was that the system established in Clark County would be difficult to review for violations due to how the record was being preserved.

The Republicans are claiming that this is just the first set of identified voters with alleged ineligibility. Conversely, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, issued a statement arguing the state was “widely recognized as being a leader in election administration,” and that he had “the utmost confidence in the abilities of Nevada’s local election officials and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske to accurately count every eligible vote cast in the Silver State.” We have no basis to rule in or rule out either claim.

I have repeatedly stated that we must not make assumptions on either side.  My concern is that it is not clear how a court could review these ballots in Clark County if it agrees that there appears to be systemic problems.  If the court believes that thousands votes illegally, that lack of a record could prove the undoing of the state officials. At some point, the burden can shift and courts demand proof that a problem was not systemic. If they cannot, the question will be raised whether the same vulnerability existed in other states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Georgia. A court could be presented with a decision of when the unknowable becomes the unacceptable.  If the court believes that thousands of unlawful votes were cases and the ultimate number impossible to confirm, the only certain way to address a systemic failure would be a special election – a prospect that few judges would relish and even fewer would seriously consider.

What we know is that we are rapidly running out of runway to deal with this problem.  The options range from a detailed review of ballots to the remote possibility of a new election. All of those options take time as we saw in 2000 with the Florida recount. If the time runs out, we could have an election with lingering doubt over the legitimacy of the vote count in states like Nevada – a poisonous prospect for any democratic process.

“Gonzo reporter” Hunter S. Thompson once said that “For a loser Vegas is the meanest town on earth.” The question for a court may be whether it is equally unkind to a winner if he cannot prove what he won.

88 thoughts on “What Happens In Vegas May Not Stay In Vegas: Why The Nevada Challenge Could Be Important To The Presidential Election”

  1. We are mere observer at this point. Trump is within his right to pursue his course of action. If proof play out will you abide by it or declare another steal by Trump rather than failed Democratic election fraud. As Turley says “Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks”.

  2. I don’t know if the NSA is still recording all our emails and phone calls, but here would be an opportune time for the administration to direct the security agencies to protect the nation from an infiltration coup, which can be argued was driven or assisted by foreign powers.
    That truly is a national security concern, as it strikes to heart of our democracy and our system of government.
    If any/all of the election administrators and workers made any communications amongst themselves showing indicia of election fraud, this should be used immediately in any court applications, properly scrubbed for its originating source of course.

  3. There is another possibility and that is to disallow the certification of electors from the states where the vote is burdened by fraud. The certification of electors is a function of the legislature which in Pa, Mi, Wi Ga and Az but, unfortunately, not Nv. Fertile ground for a challenge to accepting the state electors from these states.

    1. Besides being a coup Steven, it is illegal to choose this course unless a state declares it before the election. Maybe you should move to Central America where your ideas of government would fit better.

  4. Jonathan: Only if you believe, with Donald Trump, that 1 + 1 = 3 can you advance the argument that Trump’s challenges to the vote counting process in Nevada “could be important to the Presidential election”. Only in your wildest wet dream! Trump has lost every court challenge to the vote count in Nevada. His latest was the bizarre objection to using signature verification machines and the claim that Republican poll watchers should be able to overhear what vote counters say. These challenges are just last ditch efforts to prevent the inevitable. In Nevada Biden already has a 22,657 lead with about 124,00 votes to be counted mostly in Clark County, a Democratic stronghold. Besides, FoxNews and other outlets have already called the election for Biden. What else do you need to know when Fox has turned its back on Trump? I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow but you have already, to use your phrase, “run out of runway” in finding arguments in support of Trump’s desperate effort to stay in office.

    1. Dennis, Turley has waged a constant campaign of distractions from real news and important events while trying to find irrelevant or unimportant targets his right wing audience could get cranked up about. For a guy pretending to be Miss Manners, the people using the wrong fork were always Democrats or personalities on the cable news networks in competition with the one he gets invited to and meanwhile Trump was belching during the blessing and wiping his mouth with the table cloth.

  5. isn’t it amazing that as soon as they realized that Biden was probably going to win they unboarded the windows and opened the streets. I guess it wasn’t the white supremacists that were doing rioting and looting

  6. Software “glitches” that magically transform votes for Trump into votes for Biden (MI, and maybe elsewhere). Treating republican ballot-counting watchers as if they’re bird watchers (PA and elsewhere). Nonresidents and dead people voting by mail (NV and elsewhere). Allowing democrat ballots to be cured, but not republican ones (PA and possibly elsewhere).

    Looks like the democrats have found themselves a new “insurance policy.”

    1. The software that moved 6,000 votes from Trump to Biden in Michigan is widely used in all the swing states. In fact, poll workers in Georgia using that software had to shut down the system because there had been an update in the wee hours of election day that had “glitched” their system. It may be that the vendor, a Canadian company in which Diane Feinstein’s husband may have an ownership interest, put out an update that has caused problems in many places. Remember: the glitch in Michigan was only caught by an observant supervisor but the size of the problem was only revealed by a hand count of optical scan ballots. I myself will not feel comfortable about this election until these and other problems are investigated and resolved one way or another. I agree with Prof. Turley that the networks’ decision to call the election for Biden at this time is premature and will only result in half the electorate questioning the validity of the entire election.

      1. algan: “Evidence, Sam??”

        If you make the effort to look, you will find it — just as I did.

        One thing I’ve learned about some of the commenters on this blog: Their seriousness about “evidence” is like the man who says he wants to lose weight, while lying around all day munching on Cheetos.

  7. PS JT, what about Republican election fraud? The Repubs have been throwing millions off the voter roles for the crime of voting while black for decades, what about the 6 or 8 hour lines in black sections and democratic areas while the white tRump humper areas have a 2 minuet wait?? What about the Repubs voter caging activities? Come on JT stand up for a minority right for one in you life – but you don’t really care about election fraud do you?

    As the Minnesota Reformer reports, Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan appeared on an invite-only Zoom meeting with Republican activists on Thursday night, and told them that the party would back their play if they made claims of ballot fraud, even if there was no basis for those claims. And Carnahan made it clear she didn’t mean just local support. In fact, she told the Trump activists, this wasn’t a Minnesota thing, but a plan from Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.

    According to Carnahan, McDaniel put out a request for “GOP officials around the country” to recruit Republicans to make false claims of ballot fraud. She made it clear the party would amplify any claims of ballot fraud, as part of a plan to back Trump’s false claims.

    *snip*

    The Zoom call took place as the numbers in Pennsylvania were shifting rapidly. With Trump’s early lead vanishing as mail-in ballots were added to the totals, and it was clear that Joe Biden was about to tip over the 270 electoral vote threshold. Unknown to Republican officials, a reporter for the Minnesota Reformer became aware of the Zoom call, registered for the meeting, and listened in to the entire appeal.

    Attempting to vote multiple times is fraud. Attempting to alter ballots is fraud. Deliberately discarding submitted ballots is fraud. But claiming that election fraud occurred when it did not is also election fraud. And encouraging thousands of activists across the nation to engage in deliberately fraudulent conspiracy puts the RNC and chair Ronna McDaniel at the center of a genuine “vast right-wing conspiracy” that demands to be given swift attention by both state and federal law enforcement.
    As the Minnesota Reformer reports, Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan appeared on an invite-only Zoom meeting with Republican activists on Thursday night, and told them that the party would back their play if they made claims of ballot fraud, even if there was no basis for those claims. And Carnahan made it clear she didn’t mean just local support. In fact, she told the Trump activists, this wasn’t a Minnesota thing, but a plan from Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/6/1993438/-The-RNC-is-recruiting-Republican-activists-across-the-nation-to-make-false-claims-of-election-fraud

    1. Reptilicans are snowflakes, one and all. As the philly mayor said to trump, “time to put your big boy pants on.” Not going to happen.

    2. One can hate the crime but still admire the skill and audacity of the perpetrators. With the mail-in ballot fiasco plenty of folks saw it coming and still it was allowed to happen. From someone who should know, Democrat ballot-box stuffing is a “time-honored tradition”. https://www.breitbart.com/clips/2020/11/06/rod-blagojevich-dems-stealing-elections-a-time-honored-tradition/
      We won’t have another honest federal election until we have mandated in-person voting by certified citizens with picture ID, the only exceptions being strictly controlled absentee ballots based on verified requests.

      1. wiseoldlawyer, the commission Trump set up to investigate and expose all this supposed voter fraud and run by the primary advocate for this false charge, closed it’s doors with nothing to report. Try to catch up with the news. That was at least 2 years ago.

  8. “What we know is that we are rapidly running out of runway to deal with this problem.”
    Run out the clock. Run out the clock. Run out the clock.
    Sound familiar?

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