Vote allegations keep authorities busy


Secretary of State Ross Miller said Monday voters are angry and lodging more complaints with his office this election than in 2008 during the heated presidential race.

"It's fair enough to say we're getting complaints from both sides of the aisle," Miller said. "The challenge has been sorting out the serious complaints from the frivolous ones."

Miller said the tone of the calls coming into his office, which include allegations of vote-buying and voter coercion, has been "more aggressive," with more incidents of what he called "name-calling."

"People are definitely angry," he said.

Miller estimated voter turnout by the close of polls today will be 60 percent to 65 percent across the state.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax predicted as high as a 65 percent turnout of eligible registered voters here, which would be larger than the 55 percent showing in a similar nonpresidential year in 2006.

Lomax attributed the higher turnout prediction to passions running high among the voters. The hard-fought U.S. Senate race between Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, and his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, also is bringing more voters to the polls, Lomax said.

More than half of the expected votes in Clark County this election, about 290,000, already have been cast through early voting and absentee ballots, Lomax said. The initial results could be released as early as 7:30 p.m., about a half-hour after the polls close.

Lomax said he expects another 190,000 voters to go to the polls in the county today.

Miller has set up election command centers in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City to keep track of the voting.

The Nevada Election Integrity Task Force will be standing by all day at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas to field any voting complaints. The FBI, U.S. attorney's office and the state attorney general's office are all members of the unit, which Miller set up two years ago.

Miller said Monday that a preliminary inquiry has found that voting machines were not tampered with to allow the preselection of a candidate in isolated incidents during early voting, as had been alleged.

"State and federal investigators interviewed every person who submitted a complaint to the Election Integrity Task Force claiming irregularities had occurred, and investigators found that in all instances the voter was given the opportunity to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice," Miller said in a news release.

"Operator error and uncoordinated machine screen malfunctions appear to be responsible for the complaints," he said.

But Angle said Monday that her campaign has found voting irregularities and that she has a team of lawyers ready in Las Vegas to file challenges if necessary after today's election.

"We have found irregularities," Angle said during an appearance on the Bill Manders radio talk show in Reno. "We aren't saying there is no voter fraud. We are looking for it."

Her comments came as Republican lawyer David O'Mara filed another complaint with the secretary of state, alleging more possible wrongdoing at an early voting site in Las Vegas.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Susan Proescher, a poll watcher at the Las Vegas Outlet Center. Proescher alleged that the county registrar's team leader at the polling site allowed a couple to vote after the close of voting for the day on Oct. 26, in violation of state law, after the couple said they wanted to vote for Harry Reid.

O'Mara, who has said he is legal counsel for the Nevada GOP Victory Committee, which he called a "federal reporting committee" for the state party, asked Miller to investigate the claim and take steps to prevent similar occurrences that might favor Reid.

Miller said his office will review that complaint and a complaint O'Mara filed late last week on behalf of another poll watcher, alleging that labor unions representing casino workers engaged in an unlawful pattern of coercion and intimidation at early voting sites.

Culinary union Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor said that the union bused hundreds of workers to the polls in a nonpartisan effort with the casinos, but he denied that any intimidation tactics were used.

Miller released a report last week that found no voter fraud stemming from another O'Mara complaint.

O'Mara had alleged that daily polling logs kept by election officials in Clark and Washoe counties showed more ballots cast than the tally of voters at seven early voting sites, five in Southern Nevada and two in Northern Nevada. The count was off by two ballots at one site and by one each at six others.

Voting machines might have recorded extra votes erroneously, or people were allowed to cast votes without signing up, O'Mara wrote.

But the secretary of state's office found that safeguards were in place to prevent such occurrences.

O'Mara sent the secretary of state a letter Monday criticizing the investigation and questioning the office's "commitment to transparency" in the issues he raised.

"We appreciate your office's investigation into the discrepancies and other issues we identified," O'Mara wrote. "We remain concerned, however, that for the most part your investigation did not answer or resolve our questions.

"Errors and discrepancies collectively undermine the public's fundamental right to accuracy, precision and fidelity in the results of state and federal elections."

Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel contributed to this report. Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

 

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