Don’t buy their con: Nevada’s actually good at elections

car ride
Adam Laxalt, chairman of the Trump reelection campaign in Nevada, tweeted this photo during a Trump visit to Las Vegas in June, 2018.

Joe Gloria has been the Clark County Registrar of Voters since 2013. Before that he was the Clark County Election Department Administrator for 18 years.

In other words, Joe Gloria has been overseeing elections in Nevada nearly three times as long as Adam Laxalt has been in Nevada.

Nevada is not renowned for doing public service sorts of things particularly well.

But from the ample handy-dandy early voting locations near you, to uniquely statewide and state-of-the-art uniform electronic voting machinery with the paper ballot receipt, to breaking a tie by cutting cards, Nevada has been pretty good at conducting elections for a long time. Better than a lot of other states. Yes, it seems counterintuitive. But there it is.

Laxalt, chair of the Trump campaign in Nevada and the face of what in the Trump era passes for the Nevada Republican Party, has been on whatever media will have him and in his PAC’s newsletters and on social media, telling anyone who will listen that Nevada’s voting system is bereft of safeguards and ripe for … stealing by antifa, or whatever. It’s all malevolent disinformation.

Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republicans have sued, unsuccessfully so far, to force Gloria to stop counting all those votes you, the people of Clark County, have cast by mail. The Republicans have also filed a nuisance suit seeking a bunch of information they don’t even want in an effort to gum up the works.

The strategy is at least twofold: First, keep as many votes as possible from being counted by Election Day, so if they’re counted later Trump can lob lies and conspiracy theories at the results. And second, keep appealing their losses in court and keeping cases alive so Biff Kavanaugh, Amy Barrett, Clarence Thomas and the gang can fold, spindle and mutilate ballots and state election laws until they successfully reject the will of voters who had the gall to reject the Dear Leader.

Or as Trump, deliberately trying to undermine public confidence in the election, argle-bargled to reporters Wednesday, “Hopefully, the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after Nov. 3 to count ballots, that won’t be allowed by the various courts, because as you know we’re in courts on that.

The chance of Trump, Laxalt, Biff & Friends stealing the election in court is better if the public has been convinced the election is a big fat fraud perpetrated on Real Americans by socialist radical left Democrats. If you’re going to make a final and humiliating mockery of the U.S. Supreme Court, trying to provide a little PR cover to the justices upfront is the least you can do. And people say Trump isn’t thoughtful.

Nevada is what it is: A state obsessed with markets and profits, where the interests of powerful businesses are put ahead of working families, a dysfunctional tax system hits the poor hardest, the safety net is threadbare, and public service infrastructure, from health to education to public transportation, is miserable. So there’s that.

But Nevada has shown repeatedly and convincingly that it is capable — more capable than many other states, even — at conducting fair and efficient elections.

Will Nevada’s general election be perfect? No election is. In the June primary, the state’s inaugural foray into mass mail-in voting, 6,700 ballots were rejected because signatures couldn’t be verified. 

But even that showed the system, well, worked.

And Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has acknowledged there were no instances of voter fraud reported in the primary.

Whatever hiccups or oddities (or, ugh, long lines) that mar the election, no matter how innocent or small, don’t be surprised when Trump, Laxalt & Co. hyperventilate and scream and squeal and try to make you believe it’s all a nefarious plot cooked up by Marxist revolutionaries to destroy America.

Don’t buy it. Trump and his acolytes lie about everything all the time.

Laxalt should go home tho

In defense of Laxalt, there’s no reason he should be aware Nevada is actually quite good at having elections.

Since moving here toward the end of Obama’s first term for the sole purpose of cashing in on his grandfather’s name to launch a political career, Laxalt has demonstrated almost zero interest in, oh, education, health care, mental health services, economic diversification, or any of the other issues Nevada public figures try, however half-heartedly, to acknowledge as problems that need addressed. 

Remember the “policy” planks of Laxalt’s trainwreck 2018 campaign for governor? Ha just kidding no one does. It was as big a joke as everything else about him.

Laxalt seems a man quite convinced of his own greatness, a favored individual with a prominent, prosperous and powerful future on the national stage. Nevada policy matters are beneath him.

If Laxalt cared even a tenth as much about Nevada as he cares about becoming a professional high-profile right-wing public personality, when he moved here he would have got a day job and kept it, and perhaps made some effort to understand some of the state’s problems and contribute to their solutions. He might have taken a more modest approach to satisfying his unquenchable thirst to become a career show horse, like running for a legislative seat, or standing in one of the eleventy-nine judge races that are on ballots around here.

Instead, he pedals niche wingnuttery, almost exclusively on national issues. Laxalt’s schtick is transferable — substitute a few words, and he could take it to virtually any other state.

He should do that.

This election, even more than the last two if that’s possible, have demonstrated Nevada would be better off if Laxalt wasn’t in it. Nevada needs a lot of things. Trump and Laxalt mucking about in our election is not one of them.

Nevada, you see, is pretty good at elections.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.