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ACLU lawsuit challenges Nye County’s ballot hand-counting process

Updated October 5, 2022 - 4:56 pm

RENO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Nye County in an attempt to block its ballot hand-counting procedures.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Nye County District Court, names both the county and Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf and asks the court to block the process on the grounds that is unlawful and will “unravel” election integrity.

“Nye County’s proposed process is a rushed attempt to circumvent democracy,” said ACLU attorney Sadmira Ramic in a written statement. “With weeks until voting begins, Nye County’s proposed hand-counting process will unravel the election integrity protections currently in place and will undoubtedly make it harder for Nye voters to exercise their freedom to vote.”

The lawsuit cites three violations of either state law or the state constitution.

The ACLU alleges the verbal announcement of each ballot’s results, made by hand-count teams, could result in the early release of election results and information, which would violate state law.

Additionally, the lawsuit contends that the county’s plans for providing touch screens for disabled voters violates the Help America Vote Act and the state constitution because it would allow election workers to inquire about a voter’s disability or would allow them to turn away an eligible voter based on “arbitrary decision making.”

The county’s procedures also require “stringent” signature verification, which allows election workers to require voters to show an ID if their signature doesn’t match the state’s record, a move that the ACLU alleges violates state law.

Last month, the Nye County clerk’s office announced that it would use paper ballots and hand counting alongside voting machines in the next election, a move that followed false claims of election fraud.

Ramic said she believes the arguments made in the lawsuit against are “strong.”

“The plan that Mr. Kampf is implementing does violate clear statutes. There’s no beating around it,” she said.

Kampf declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.

It’s not the first time hand-counting procedures have come under fire in the state. Just last week, a Carson City District Court judge denied an effort by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada to block the secretary of state’s office from authorizing hand counting of ballots in counties across the state.

The stakes aren’t just limited to Nevada, according to Ramic.

“This is not just about one small county within our state,” she said. “It is part of the bigger picture of what we have seen happening across the country. What’s happening in Nye is a small piece of a plan to undermine our democracy, and to continue spreading misinformation about the integrity of our elections.”

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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