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COMMENTARY: Making sure that only real votes count

It has been two weeks since Election Day, and serious questions remain as to whether we did indeed hold a secure and accurate election in Nevada.

This disaster was painfully easy to predict — and was indeed predicted. As state co-chair of President Donald Trump’s campaign, I’ve been on the front lines of the effort to expose the chronic problems in Nevada’s election system. I’ve issued numerous public warnings that our ability to hold a secure election was in grave doubt.

Today, Democrats are shamefully attempting to pin the blame for the current crisis of public confidence in our election security on those who have worked the hardest to prevent that crisis. The truth is that Democrats put us here. They could have allowed for a system with both absentee ballots upon request and in-person voting, along with safeguards to ensure election integrity.

Instead, they passed a series of “reforms” during a midnight “emergency” special session that implemented universal mail-in balloting and legalized California-style ballot harvesting. Gov. Steve Sisolak flat-out refused to allow any accountability measures or oversight in the ballot-harvesting process. Our secretary of state, whose office lacks sufficient resources to adequately protect our elections, refused to speak up publicly and acknowledge our state’s inability to handle mail-in balloting securely.

We know Nevada has unclean voter rolls. The Review-Journal reported that in the June primary election “93,585 undeliverable ballots belonged to voters classified as active in Clark County’s voter rolls.” We’ve all seen the news stories and videos of mailed ballots piling up around trash cans and at apartment complexes. Dead voters and people who have moved out of state were mailed ballots at Las Vegas addresses, and others were mailed ballots out of state.

In Clark County, registrar Joe Gloria used a new machine to verity signatures for mail-in ballots. He inexplicably and unilaterally lowered the signature-matching accuracy standard on this machine used to count ballots to 40 percent — well below the manufacturer’s recommended setting. AI and computer-vision experts have said that once the factory setting on the machine is altered, it takes months of effort from a massive team with the appropriate expertise to get it back to a reliable standard.

There are more than 600,000 mail-ballot signatures statewide, roughly 200,000 of which have gone through this machine in Clark County. Under this system, an unbelievable 99 percent of Clark County ballots have been counted as accurate, with no opportunity for any signatures to be challenged once verified.

Additionally, the county refused to allow any meaningful observation of signature verification. We simply don’t know how many of these signatures are bad and thus how many improper votes were counted.

We now know that there are thousands of illegal votes consisting of a combination of dead voters, out-of-state voters, double voters (those who cast ballots in Nevada and another state), among other improper votes. Gloria has said any look he would take at possible problems is complaint-based — in other words, not proactive but reactive in the event a complaint comes in. The same is true of the secretary of state’s office. There’s no mechanism for these votes to be checked if officials aren’t actively poring through these categories of voters where fraud is likely.

In response to the ongoing efforts to expose and correct these serious problems, some on the left have accused me and others of attempting to “disenfranchise” Nevada voters. It’s not only demonstrably false, it actually completely inverts the truth. An accurate election is one that ensures only real votes count. True disenfranchisement comes with a system that allows fraudulent votes to be counted because it results in legitimate votes counting for less. And in the event that a ballot is flagged as potentially problematic, Nevada has in place a robust system for identifying those voters and curing ballots that are indeed legitimate.

Those who voted honestly in this election deserve to know that their votes — not just in the presidential race, but up and down the ballot — were not canceled out or diluted because of fraud or error. All citizens, regardless of party or candidate preferences, deserve to know our election was conducted freely and fairly. That’s what my efforts, and those of others who are fighting alongside me, are about. And we will continue that fight.

Adam Laxalt is the former attorney general of Nevada.

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