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Judge grants order keeping some Clark County polls open until 8 p.m.

Updated November 3, 2020 - 6:41 pm

With people lined up to vote across Nevada and the country, President Donald Trump’s campaign and the state GOP filed new election-related legal challenges in the Silver State Tuesday, appealing an earlier ruling to the state Supreme Court and filing a new lawsuit seeking a one-hour extension of polling hours due to problems when polls opened Tuesday morning.

Both lawsuits are specific to Clark County, the state’s heavily Democratic population center. With no strenuous opposition from Clark County or other parties in the case, District Judge Joe Hardy Jr. granted the order extending hours at affected polling sites.

In the appeal, the Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans sought reversal of a District Court judge’s ruling that rejected their challenge of mail-in ballot counting in Clark.

The Nevada Supreme Court issued an order on the appeal around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, denying the Trump campaign’s request for the court to stop Clark County from processing the mail-in ballots but agreeing to hear the expedited appeal, which would likely happen sometime next week.

The new case cited technical problems that delayed the start of voting at 22 Clark County locations by up to an hour Tuesday morning.

Polls in Nevada are typically open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day and remain open for voters who are in line at closing time. The GOP asked for closing to be extended by an hour, to 8 p.m., so that any voter in line at the later hour “will be afforded the right to vote in those precincts.”

“All we’re asking for, your honor, is that you hold the polls open for one more hour, so that these individuals who didn’t get the opportunity to cast a vote before they went to work this morning, can have the opportunity, the additional time after work to make sure that they can cast that vote,” plaintiffs’ attorney Brian Hardy said in the hearing.

The attorney is not related to the judge.

Eight additional polling locations were added at the request of the Democratic Party, which asked to intervene in the case, for a total of 30, as follows:

— Burkholder Middle School

— Clark County Building Department

— Heritage Park Senior Facility

— Shadow Ridge High School

— Goolsby Elementary School

— Kenny Guinn Middle School

— Sun City Macdonald Ranch Community Center

— Bass Elementary School

— Canarelli Middle School

— Desert Breeze Community Center

— Conners Elementary School

— Kesterson Elementary School

— Gray, R. Guild Elementary School

— Coleman, Cora Senior Center

— Desert Oasis High School

— Schofield Junior High School

— Cram Middle School

— Leavitt Middle School

— Cadwallader Middle School

— Las Vegas Athletic Club

— Knudson Middle School

— Lawrence Junior High School

— Historic Fifth Street School

— Reed Elementary School

— Monaco Middle School

— Aliante Library

— Keller Middle School

— Boulevard Mall (near Applebee’s)

— McDoniel Elementary School

— Winchester Dondero Cultural Center

Meanwhile, the appeal to the state Supreme Court repeats the claims that Carson City District Judge James Wilson summarily rejected in his ruling, released Monday. It asked for a stay and an expedited appeal, arguing that the respondents, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria, in their capacities as elections officials, will “suffer no harm from a brief stay.”

In the Supreme Court’s order that denied the request for a stay, the justices wrote that the Republicans did not identify any legal duty that Cegavske or Gloria have ignored, and that they did not address the lower court’s conclusion that they lacked standing for relief.

In a news release, state GOP chairman Michael McDonald cited press reports alleging voting and balloting irregularities unrelated to the lawsuit’s claims and said the party and the Trump campaign were pursuing the appeal out of concern for “a free and fair election.”

The Trump campaign and state party sought to force Clark County to change how it counts and verifies mail ballots to permit greater scrutiny of the process through all its stages. They claimed the county’s process created a risk of voter fraud that effectively diluted votes from their side.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the county’s signature-verification process for mail-in ballots was deficient and that observers could not view or challenge the work of election workers. They sought a court order stopping the county from using a ballot sorting machine that verifies the signatures.

The case included a daylong hearing last week. Wilson found no basis for the plaintiffs’ claims, ruling there was no evidence of faulty procedure, inaccurate counting or wrongdoing by election workers.

In a statement to voters regarding the appeal, Attorney General Aaron Ford, whose office represented the secretary of state’s office, said the appeal does not change the timing of today’s balloting.

“If you have not already voted, you must vote today, and you should do so either in-person or by dropping off your mail-in ballot,” Ford said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter. Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead contributed to this report.

Kraus et al v. Cegavske et al by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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