It turns out that some things that happen in Vegas may not stay in Vegas. . . how to vote. The Republican Party in Silver State is now arguing that thousands of votes in the tight presidential election were cast by workers who moved out of the state, or even the deceased. Various voters reported that their deceased relatives received live ballot papers by mail. Now the Republican Party of Nevada has filed a criminal complaint with the Justice Department alleging at least 3,062 cases of election fraud in the battlefield state. The transfer is much less than the “10,000” mentioned earlier, but the underlying claim is still important. Many of us feared early on that the way the Clark County system was used would make it difficult to check for violations because of the way the spreadsheet was used and the records kept.
The allegations of voting ineligible to vote were raised before election day. Many states, such as Nevada, rely on notoriously outdated electoral rolls and use fairly loose standards to verify the identity of voters for postal ballots. This is a particular problem in Nevada as many workers have moved out of the state due to the impact of the pandemic on the casino industry. You will not be able to vote if you have moved out of the state more than 30 days before the vote. The problem is with the accuracy of the state’s voting and residence records when such changes are reported shortly before an election. Without a system of residence authentication and identification, it would be a system based on the honor system – an approach no casino would allow even in the nickel slots space.
With a wide variety of lawsuits before the courts in different states, I focused on the Nevada allegations of thousands of ineligible or even deceased voters. This is the type of system failure that can lead to clouds not only in the Silver State but in other states as well. Nevada was one of the states that I identified prior to the election as one of three states that I watched most closely for election challenges. However, the issues raised in Nevada could raise concerns about common elements in various states from Michigan to Pennsylvania. Trust in questionable electoral rolls and the lack of authentication systems were raised months ago. The legal problem is not only that such systems may allow a large number of ineligible votes, but that they do not allow sufficient verification of ballot papers to resolve such issues.
The criminal remittance is much less than the “10,000” previously mentioned, but the underlying claim is still important. Many of us feared early on that the keeping of records would make the Clark County’s system difficult to check for violations.
Republicans claim this is only the first group of identified voters to be allegedly inadmissible. Conversely, Democrat Steve Sisolak, governor of Nevada, issued a statement arguing that the state was “widely recognized as a leader in electoral administration” and that he had “greatest confidence in the skills of local election officials and the Nevada Secretary of State” Barbara Cegavske, to count every eligibility in the Silver State. “We have no basis to exclude or exclude a claim.
I have repeatedly stated that we cannot make assumptions on either side. I worry that it is not clear how a court in Clark County could review these ballots if it agrees that there appear to be systemic problems. If the court finds thousands are voting illegally, the lack of a record could prove the downfall of state officials. At some point the burden may shift and the courts will require proof that a problem was not systemic. If this is not possible, then the question arises whether other states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Georgia have had the same vulnerability. A decision could be submitted to a court as to when the unknowable becomes the unacceptable. If the court believes that thousands of unlawful votes were cases and the final number cannot be confirmed, the only surefire way to fix a system failure would be through a special election – a prospect few judges enjoy and even less serious in Would consider.
What we do know is that we are quickly running out of runways to solve this problem. The options range from a detailed review of the ballot papers to the remote possibility of a new election. All of these options take time, as we saw with the Florida recount in 2000. If time runs out, with lingering doubts about the legitimacy of the vote in states like Nevada, we could have an election – a poisonous prospect for any democratic process.
“Gonzo reporter” Hunter S. Thompson once said, “For a loser, Vegas is the meanest city in the world.” The question for a court may be whether it is equally unkind for a winner if they cannot prove what they have won.