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GOP accuses Clark County of ‘shady’ deal with Democrats in lawsuit

National and state Republican officials sued Clark County on Monday, accusing officials of making a “shady backroom deal” with Democrats over the conduct of the June 9 mail-in primary election.

The lawsuit seeks public records to explain how county officials decided to add two in-person voting sites on primary election day, send mail ballots to all registered voters, including inactive ones, and allow deputized “field registrars” to collect ballots.

The changes to how the mail ballot-only contest would be conducted were revealed last month.

The Nevada State Democratic Party, which had gone to court to push state and county election officials to expand voter access, said the changes will accomplish that goal. At least two county commissioners supported the amended plan but could not provide any detail on how it came to be.

But the Republican National Committee and Nevada Republican Party claimed in Monday’s legal filing in state district court that the plan will waste taxpayer dollars and was reached outside of the state’s open meeting law and without public input.

The GOP said, among other contentions, that the county will knowingly waste more than $166,000 on mailing ballots to inactive voters as part of its $300,000-plus revised plan, according to the complaint. (Inactive voters are registered voters to whom the county has sent election postcards that have been returned as undeliverable.)

Republicans had sought public records from Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria, county commissioners and county staff, including correspondence with Democrats, on the change to the election plan. They argued that county officials withheld records, citing attorney-client privilege, or simply failed to produce them.

“Every Nevadan should be concerned that officials in the state’s largest county are refusing to turn over public records that could reveal how a shady backroom deal to rewrite our primary’s election rules with the Democrat Party came to be,” said Nevada Republican Party Executive Director Jessica Hanson in a statement.

The Republican National Committee also accused Democrats of seizing on the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to push a partisan election agenda, including by asking courts to suspend prosecution of so-called ballot harvesters and signature verification procedures for absentee ballots. The county has not made those changes, however.

“Since the Democrat-dominated Clark County Commission is refusing to comply with state law and release public records, we have been left with no other choice but to ask the court to force the county to hand them over,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement.

The Republicans’ lawsuit Monday names the county, Gloria and the all-Democratic commission as defendants.

In an email, a county spokesman said, “this lawsuit is based upon suspicions, not facts and we expect to prevail.”

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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