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At least four more Nevada counties are considering changes to the voting process with three proposing to switch to hand-counting paper ballots, a move borne from unsubstantiated claims about widespread election fraud.
Lyon, Lincoln, Elko and Esmeralda county commissions have all scheduled to hear proposals at upcoming meetings next week.
“Enough is enough,” said Holly Welborn, the policy director for the ACLU of Nevada, which threatened to sue Washoe County for its recent proposed voting resolutions.
“This is a targeted attempt to undermine and threaten our election officials, to undermine democracy in the state of Nevada and the rest of the country, and to get the electorate to not trust election officials who are hard-working people who are following the law,” she said.
The office of Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske reviewed the 2020 General Election after alleged “election integrity issues” and found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Her review hasn’t prevented county commissions from debating resolutions based on false narratives around the 2020 election.
Esmeralda County’s proposal, which is scheduled to be heard Tuesday, would consider “using only paper ballots and hand-counting the paper ballots submitted by Esmeralda County voters to ensure accuracy and transparency of the democratic voting process.”
Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, who gave a presentation to Nye County Commissioners in March alongside national Republican figures who have promoted election fraud conspiracy theories, is listed as a speaker for the proposal.
Marchant, an advocate of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent, encouraged the Nye County commission to consider recommending their county clerk switch to paper ballots.
Though the vote passed unanimously, it was only a recommendation and the sole power belongs to the clerk.
“I’m not saying no I will not,” Nye County Clerk Sandra Merlino told commissioners prior to their vote. “I just think I need to get past the primary because we are so far in.”
Lyon County Commission Ken Gray requested a similar item to hand-count paper ballots to be included on the agenda for Thursday.
On Wednesday, Elko County has an item to discuss “voting alternatives including changing voting machines suppliers or going the paper ballot route for elections.” Lincoln County is hearing a resolution on discontinuing use of Dominion voting machines on Monday.
Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. has filed defamation suits against Trump-friendly media outlets, including a $1.3 billion suit against Fox News, for spreading conspiracies about the company’s machines.
In a statement, Kerry Durmick, the Nevada State Director for All Voting is Local, said the county-level efforts are “fueled by election conspiracy theorists who continue to deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election.”
“Point blank, decisions to move toward an all-paper ballot and hand-counted ballot election system violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and is a system that will burden counties that decide to take this route, because they will face extreme financial obligations that will be difficult to meet,” Durmick said.
Voting rights advocates in Nevada worried a slew of voting resolutions would be introduced at the local level.
A wave of Republican-led voting restrictions at the state level have been approved nationwide, but with a Democratic-controlled Legislature and governorship in Nevada, any changes to the voting process would have to be adopted by counties.
In February, Washoe County proposed a voting resolution that would have required residents to be poll workers, wanted to use “stealth paper ballots,” called on the National Guard to be present at polling locations, required “fair opportunities for observation” and asked for ballots to be hand counted.
The resolution was later updated to change National Guard presence to sheriff’s deputies.
Following more than six hours of contentious public comment at a March hearing, the resolution failed in a 4-1 vote with Republican Washoe County Commissioner Jeanne Herman, the proposal’s sponsor, in favor.
Even though the resolution failed in Washoe County, public comment for these measures has included increased threats to officials if they don’t consider proposals.
Deanna Spikula, Washoe County Registrar, was placed on leave after receiving numerous threats.
“These proposals are a waste of time,” Welborn said. “They are not considering the waste of time it is to consider these proposals but also the danger they are placing election officials in by continuing to push this rhetoric.”
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