Nevada Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Stop County’s Hand-Count

Nevada Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Stop County’s Hand-Count
Nye County residents wait to vote in Pahrump, Nev., on a Nov. 8, 2022 ballot that included Question 2, a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage that was adopted with 55 percent of the vote statewide but rejected by 56 percent of voters in Nye County. (Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

The Nevada Supreme Court on Nov. 14 turned down a request to halt hand counting of ballots in a rural county.

The hand count, which is taking place after all ballots cast in the midterms were tabulated with machines, is essentially a recount or an audit, neither of which are allowed under state law, the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in an emergency motion on Monday.

“Unless enjoined by this Court, this hand count will set a dangerous precedent for future elections by encouraging local officials to make up and implement their own vote counting processes that violate voters’ constitutional right to an accurate election ‘as provided by law,’” the group said.

The state’s top court ruled within hours, denying the petition.

The court noted that the hand count was approved by the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, according to a response to the emergency motion from Interim Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf.

County officials also differed on what state law allows, saying a hand count that is not an audit or recount is not “expressly prohibit[ed]” by the law.

“Having reviewed the petition and answer, we conclude that petitioner has not demonstrated that our extraordinary intervention is warranted at this time. Petitioner has pointed to no law clearly prohibiting the parallel hand count or precluding any post-deadline revision to secondary vote-counting plans approved by the Secretary,” justices said.

“Further, petitioner did not name the Secretary as a party to this original proceeding essentially challenging her actions or inactions in enforcing the election laws. Under these circumstances, we decline to exercise our discretion to consider this writ petition, and we ORDER the petition DENIED,” they added.

In a statement to The Epoch Times, Nye County officials said, “Nye County is pleased with yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling and looks forward to completing the hand count as approved by the Secretary of State.”

“Although the County has been happy to follow the guidance from and respect the decisions of the Supreme Court, it seems as if the ACLU holds itself to a different standard. So, we are glad the Court has invalidated this most recent attempt to thwart the hand count, given the Court had clearly indicated previously that crafting a compliant hand count process was something for the County and the Secretary of State to work out (and not the ACLU),” the officials added.

A spokesperson for Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, did not return a request for comment.

Nye County started hand counting ballots before the Nov. 8 midterms, enacting a plan approved by the county’s Board of Commissioners, but stopped on orders from Cegavske, who said the hand count could not resume until after polls closed, according to a letter obtained by The Epoch Times.

On Nov. 4, Cegavske asked for more details of the plan to mitigate “significant risks” to integrity.

County workers resumed the count two days after the midterms.

The hand count would be compared to the machine count, Kampf, another Republican, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He said he hoped voters would gain confidence from the results being double-checked.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a comment from Nye County.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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