“I would like to get rid of the early voting,” Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant said on “Pick Your Politics,” in July. (Program screenshot)
A Democratic Association of Secretaries of State-backed group, which launched a wave of advertisements in battleground states, is investing nearly $6 million in Nevada to prevent Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, an election denier who has pushed conspiracy theories claiming voter fraud, from becoming the top election official.
The first Nevada ad, from a political action committee called the Safe Accessible Fair Elections (SAFE), began airing Tuesday and warns Marchant wants to end early voting and oust Nevada’s vote-by-mail process.
The group recently announced plans to spend $25 million in Nevada, Michigan and Minnesota – it plans additional efforts in Arizona and Georgia – where secretary of state candidates have used false claims of voter fraud to promote sweeping changes to the election process ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
“It’s a code red and these secretaries are one of the last lines of defense when it comes to protecting our election systems,” said Kim Rogers, executive director of DASS.
Marchant, who served in the legislature in 2018 and lost a bid for the 4th Congressional District in 2020, will face off against Democrat Cisco Aguilar.
Aguilar has called Marchant an extremist and has also warned the impact of the race, for an office which traditionally has flown under the radar, could have dire consequences for 2024.
Marchant didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Rogers said that since 2020 there has been a seismic shift in the United States that has led to a vast number of conspiracy theories about elections, most of them pushed or embraced by former President Donald Trump who falsely claims he won the presidential election.
As a result, she said the “narrative around this formerly sleepy administrative role really became pushed into the spotlight.”
Marchant was one of ten Republican candidates – not the only election denier – in the Nevada primary and won with 38% of the vote.
The initial $11 million buy in three states includes a Nevada-specific ad that focuses on Marchant’s position on ending early voting.
While speaking on a podcast called “Pick Your Politics” in July, Marchant said he believed in making Election Day a single day adding that “even though it is very convenient and I like it myself, the early voting, a lot of things happen in those two weeks.”
“I would like to get rid of the early voting,” Marchant told “Pick Your Politics.” “That’s going to take some changes in our law. This is not a quick fix process here. It’s going to take getting legislators in there. Once we have a fair and transparent election, I believe we’re going to have the legislators in office that will pass the right kind of laws and fix the bad laws there now.”
Marchant has voted early multiple times and has also promoted early voting on various social media platforms.
During a Republican primary for a state Assembly seat that Marchant ended up winning in 2016, he went on social media and advised voters that “Early voting makes it easier for you to find a time to go vote, and makes ballot counting more efficient.”
More recently, Marchant took to social media during this year’s primary to say “Early voting starts TODAY! Make your choice for Secretary of State in 2022 Jim Marchant!” Marchant also linked to the secretary of state’s website that listed early voting locations.
Rogers said there will likely be at least one more ad from SAFE the during the cycle. She added while the group wants to warn voters of Marchant’s views, they are being careful “not to repeat his lies.”
Following the 2020 election, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, reviewed allegations of election integrity issues and found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
That hasn’t stop Marchant from promoting conspiracy theories.
Though former President Donald Trump lost in Nevada in 2020, Marchant stood next to Nevada’s fake electors in December 2020 when they signed the phony electoral college certificates that were sent to Congress, an action that would later be revealed as part of the plan hatched by Trump’s legal advisors to stop Joe Biden’s certification as president on January 6, 2021.
Marchant sued Cegavske along with Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria trying to overturn his 5-point loss in 2020 to Democratic U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford. The case was thrown out.
While running for secretary of state in 2022, Marchant has pushed counties to move toward hand-counting paper ballots, pledged to end mail-in ballots and said he wanted to end early voting.
The first ad turns its attention to Marchant’s anti-abortion views, though the office doesn’t play a role in abortion access. Polls and voter turnout have shown access to abortion remains a top priority for voters following the Supreme Court of the United States overturning a nearly 50 year precedent that protected the constitutional right to an abortion.
Rogers said it was important to show voters Marchant “is extreme on voting but that’s not where his extremism stops.”
“I think it’s really important that folks know that people who are trying to strip us of our freedom to vote have similar positions on other freedoms that we hold dear and that frankly I think it’s really hard to separate the two,” she said.
Kristopher Dahir, a Republican who ran against Marchant in the primary, endorsed Aguilar in a recent op-ed in the Reno Gazette Journal.
While he didn’t outright use Marchant’s name, he wrote that “Those who would tear down our electoral process with mistruth and confusion must not be given this position.”
“(Aguilar) believes in the results of the 2020 election and trusts our election workers to be honest and accurate,” he wrote. “He stands in opposition to conspiracy theorists who make false claims that the election in Nevada was mishandled.”
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