LAS VEGAS (CN) — Both major parties have taken swings at each other in Nevada: Democrats accusing the Republican Party and Trump campaign of intimidating voters, and Republicans accusing the Clark County registrar of letting voters register after the deadline and vote. The suits are two of seven voting-related lawsuits filed around the country this week.
Nevada's 6 electoral votes are not a big prize toward the 270 needed to win the presidency, but it is considered a swing state this year.
The Nevada State Democratic Party struck first, filing a voter intimidation complaint with a federal judge on Sunday, Oct. 30, against the Nevada Republican Party, Donald J. Trump for President, Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., and Stone's Stop the Steal super PAC.
Democratic parties in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arizona filed voter-intimidation lawsuits in those states Monday. And lawsuits alleging other forms of voter suppression were filed Monday in North Carolina and Wisconsin.
The Nevada Republican Party on Monday accused Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe P. Gloria of violating the state deadline to register voters.
The Nevada registration deadline is the third Tuesday preceding any primary or general election; this year it was Oct. 18. But Nevada Republicans say the Clark County registrar has allowed voters to continue registering at early-voting locations, which will accept ballots through Nov. 4.
Clark County, home of Las Vegas and Henderson, contains 71 percent of Nevada's population: 2 million of the state's 2.8 million residents.
The Republican Party says it informed Gloria of "this statutory violation" on Oct. 27, and that Gloria replied "that the practice to allow individuals to register to vote is to avoid scenes or arguments by individuals alleging a denial of their constitutional right to vote." (The quotation is from the lawsuit, not from Gloria.)
In an affidavit attached to the lawsuit, filed in Clark County Court, Erven T. Nelson, attorney for the Nevada Republican Party Central Committee, states that he spoke with Gloria and one of Gloria's assistants on Oct. 27, and that Gloria's assistant "confirmed that unregistered voters are allowed to fill out registration forms at polling locations and concurrently sign affirmations allowing them to vote provisionally" by stating "that the individual believes they are entitled to vote."
The Republican Party seeks a restraining order and injunction stopping the late registration of voters and casting of provisional ballots, and ordering the Clark County registrar to keep provisional ballots separate from other ballots until the eligibility of each voter is verified.
Nevada Democrats, in their federal lawsuit, accuse the Trump campaign and Republican Party of violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
The Nevada Democratic Party says Trump et al. "are conspiring to threaten, intimidate, and thereby prevent minority voters in urban neighborhoods from voting in the 2016 election."
They say "an unnamed official" in the Trump campaign told Bloomberg News on Oct. 27: "'We have three major voter suppression operations under way' that target African Americans and other groups of voters."
The Democrats claim that the Trump campaign has "implore(d) his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation at Nevada polling places," and that Stone, whose political operations stretch back to the Nixon years, is a key player in this.
"Trump's supporters have responded with pledges to descend upon polling places in 'certain areas' where many minority voters live in order to interfere with their efforts to exercise the franchise," the Democrats add in their complaint.
They say this "coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation" violates the Ku Klux Klan Act and the Voting Rights Act, and with the election only a week away, "immediate relief is necessary."
Stone registered his Stop the Steal super PAC on April 6, and claims to have signed up 2,177 "volunteers" through his website, StopTheSteal.org, according to the complaint. It says Stone and Trump urge their "vigilante 'ballot security'" volunteers to "wear red shirts on Election Day ... specifically targeting nine Democratic-leaning cities with large minority populations, including Las Vegas."
Stone also recruited hundreds of poll-watchers through a group called Vote Protectors, which runs a website that "permits any volunteer to download and print official-looking identification badges," and as recently as Oct. 26 "encouraged volunteers it styles 'citizen journalists' to 'approach voters at the polls,' identify themselves as 'reporting for Vote Protectors,' and ask them about election fraud," the Democratic Party says in the complaint.
It asks the court to "(d)eclare that the harassment or intimidation of voters at or outside of Nevada polling locations based on unsubstantiated beliefs in supposed voter fraud — including through tactics such as the aggressive questioning of those waiting to vote, threats or suggestions of legal or criminal action, or any other form of menacing or intimation of violence — is contrary to law," and enjoin it.
The Republican Party's attorney Nelson was not available by telephone Monday evening.
Nor was attorney Bradley Schrager, with Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, who represents the Nevada Democratic Party in its lawsuit.
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