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RNC, Nevada GOP lawsuit claims voter roll inconsistencies in Nevada

Updated March 18, 2024 - 1:55 pm

State and national Republican organizations filed a lawsuit against Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar and other election officials on Monday, alleging inconsistencies in the state’s voter rolls.

The Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party assert in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court that Aguilar and several county clerks and registrars — including Clark County Registrar of Voters Lorena Portillo — have failed to maintain accurate voter rolls and is not complying with the National Voter Registration Act.

“Election integrity starts with clean voter rolls, and that’s why the National Voter Registration Act requires state officials to keep their rolls accurate and up-to-date,” RNC Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement. “Securing clean voter rolls in Nevada is a critical step towards ensuring that it will be easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

The lawsuit makes similar accusations that the RNC made in a December letter to Aguilar, alleging three Nevada counties — Douglas, Lyon and Storey — have more registered voters than adult citizens over 18, and that five other counties — Carson City, Churchill, Clark, Eureka and Washoe — have what it called “suspiciously high rates” of registered voters. At that time, the committee demanded the secretary of state respond within 45 days and correct the alleged violations within 90 days, or else it would proceed with legal action.

In its January response, the state rebuffed those claims, arguing that the data RNC was using to determine the validity of the state’s voter registration records was like “comparing apples to orangutans,” and that the RNC’s analysis was made using incomparable data.

The attorney general’s office, representing the secretary of state, argued there is no dataset that would adequately determine whether registration rates and the eligible voting population are mismatched. It also highlighted the procedures the state goes through to ensure the voter rolls are properly maintained, such as working with the Nevada Registrar of Vital Statistics every day to update counties every time a voter is identified as deceased.

The Nevada secretary of state’s office referred the Las Vegas Review-Journal to its response letter when reached for comment on Monday.

Lawsuit details

The Nevada Republican Party — whose leaders have long cast doubt on Nevada’s election’s processes and are some of the so-called “fake electors” who submitted false electoral documents declaring Donald Trump the winner of the Silver State — touted evidence of past election fraud in Nevada’s elections, pointing to the cases of Donald Kirk Hartle, convicted of voting for his dead wife in2020, and Craig Frank, convicted of voting in two states in the 2016 election.

The lawsuit said the RNC and its members worry that what they see as the state’s failure to maintain voter rolls “undermines the integrity of elections by increasing the opportunity for ineligible voters or voters intent on fraud to cast ballots.”

“Nevada’s impossibly high registration rates, large rates of inactive registered voters, low numbers of removals, and inconsistent enforcement across counties indicate an ongoing, systemic problem with its voter-list maintenance efforts,” the lawsuit says.

Republican voter Scott Johnston was also named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which claims that ineligible voters “can and do vote in Nevada’s elections,” and that those illegitimate votes “will dilute” Johnston’s vote, the complaint says. Inaccurate voter rolls also undermine Johnston’s confidence in the integrity of Nevada’s elections, the lawsuit purports.

The national committee uses states’ voter registration lists to develop plans and budgets, and the lists help the RNC estimate the number of staff it needs in a given area, the number of volunteers needed to contact voters, etc. If voter registration lists are not up-to-date, the RNC might misallocate its resources on door-knocking, mailers and other outreach efforts, the lawsuit argues.

Maintaining accurate voter rolls is especially important given Nevada’s automatic mail-ballot system that automatically sends a mail ballot to a voter unless they opt out, the lawsuit says.

“Mailing ballots based on inaccurate registration lists further damages the integrity of Nevada’s elections,” the lawsuit says.

‘Time and resources’

Nevada GOP and the RNC asked the court to find the secretary of state and the other plaintiffs in violation of the National Voter Registration Act and to issue an injunction barring them from violating the act. It also asks the court to order the defendants to develop and implement effective registration list-maintenance programs to ensure that ineligible registrants are not on the voter rolls and to pay for the plaintiff’s expenses relating to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs have spent a lot of “time and resources investigating Defendants’ failure to comply with their list-maintenance obligations.”

Nevada’s election administration has come under a microscope in the last few months, especially after glitches caused by a reported coding error fueled distrust among Nevadans, some of whom have believed the repeatedly disproved claims of election fraud since the 2020 election. Aguilar had apologized for those errors occurring, and reiterated the security of Nevada’s elections.

Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party who has promoted unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, told the Review-Journal that every vote must count, whether its a Republican, Democrat, Independent or Libertarian.

“The only way that happens is with clean voter rolls,” he said. “This is not a partisan issue. This is about all Nevadans having their voices heard.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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