Trump Campaign Sues Nevada Over Mail-In Ballot Plans

President Donald Trump delivers the commencement address at the “Hope for Prisoners” graduation ceremony on Feb. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CN) — President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has sued Nevada over its overhaul of election laws that provide for all active voters to receive mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic or other emergency, arguing that the newly enacted changes will undermine the integrity of the November election.

Some of the provisions in the elections measure, Assembly Bill 4, approved along strict party lines by the Democrat-controlled Nevada Legislature and signed into law Monday by Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak, cross the line “that separates bad policy judgments from enactments that violate federal law or the United States Constitution,” the federal court complaint states.

“AB4, which upends Nevada’s election laws and requires massive changes in election procedures and processes, makes voter fraud and other ineligible voting inevitable,” alleges the complaint, which seeks to block the changes.

The Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party joined Trump’s re-election committee in filing the complaint Tuesday night against Nevada’s top election official, Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. Trump had vowed to sue after the Legislature passed the 64-page bill during a special session.

The election provisions apply when the governor or Legislature declares an emergency or disaster.

The bill, according to the complaint, requires officials to accept and count mail ballots received after Election Day, including ballots that may have been mailed after the Tuesday election, and fails to establish uniform statewide standards for processing and counting ballots and for determining whether multiple ballots received in one envelope must be rejected.

In addition, the complaint contends that the bill violates rural voters’ rights under the equal protection clause by providing more in-person voting places per capita in the state’s two largest counties, Clark and Washoe, which include Las Vegas and Reno, respectively. 

The legislation requires rural counties to have a minimum of one in-person voting site on Election Day, while Clark County must have at least 100 sites and Washoe County 25.

The complaint says the combined effect of these problematic provisions “is to dilute Nevadans’ honest votes.”

A key focus of the suit is a provision that requires elections officials to accept and count mail-in ballots received after Election Day, even when, the complaint says, those ballots lack objective evidence that voters cast them on or before Election Day.

“In short AB4 effectively postpones and prolongs Nevada’s 2020 general election past the Election Day established by Congress.”

The bill deems ballots received by mail no later than 5 p.m. on the third day after the election to have been postmarked on or before Election Day when the postmark can’t be determined.

The complaint says most mail ballots will not have a postmark because the U.S. Postal Service generally doesn’t apply postmarks to prepaid-postage envelopes used for the ballots.

In Las Vegas and Reno, the Postal Service delivers the majority of first-class mail within one or two business days, meaning that ballots sent on Wednesday or Thursday after the Tuesday election likely will arrive before the Friday deadline and be counted, the complaint says.

The complaint, which says Nevadans historically have chosen overwhelmingly to vote in person, calls many of the new election provisions “head-scratching,” particularly in part because they were made so close to the November election.

“Major or hasty changes confuse voters, undermine confidence in the electoral process, and create incentive to remain away from the polls,” the complaint says, forcing the Republican National Committee to spend significant money to educate Nevada voters and encourage them to still cast ballots.

William McCurdy II, chairman of the Nevada State Democratic Party, issued a statement calling the lawsuit “a sham meant to intimidate the states from pursuing voting access expansions.”

“Rather than listen to Donald Trump’s lies about mail-in voting, Nevada Democrats did their job and listened to the people,” he said. “Nevadans overwhelmingly support expanded vote-by-mail options, so does the rest of the country.”

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