GOP Comes Up Short in Challenge to Nevada Ballot Count Plan

Two Republican candidates for Congress failed to produce evidence of wrongdoing in a lawsuit over Nevada’s procedure for tallying mail-in ballots, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon in Las Vegas on Friday evening denied the candidates’ request for an injunction barring Nevada’s biggest county from using a machine with advanced signature-matching technology they said wasn’t catching mismatches.

The plaintiffs “haven’t demonstrated a likelihood of success,” the judge said at an emergency hearing. If they return “with more evidence,” he said, he’d reconsider the request.

The candidates, former Nevada state legislator James Marchant and a lawyer, Daniel Rodimer, both of whom are trailing their Democratic rivals, wanted to force the county to re-process thousands of ballots and use only people to process those that hadn’t yet gone through the disputed machine.

David O’Mara, a lawyer for the candidates, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the ruling.

‘Fabricated Claims’

TheDemocratic National Committee’s top election lawyer, Marc Elias, intervened in the suit on Friday, saying Republicans were making “entirely fabricated claims of voter fraud” and trying to slow Clark County’s ballot counting “just as its votes could swing the presidential election.”

The six-page suit echoed unsubstantiated claims made a day earlier by officials with President Donald Trump’s campaign. The candidates alleged that at least 3,000 mail-in ballots had been cast illegally in the state. But their request for an injunction didn’t mention that or include any evidence of fraud, and the 3,000 ballots weren’t mentioned at Friday’s hearing.

Read More: Trump’s Vote Count Lawsuits Fail in Court but Rouse His Base

The suit was announced at a press conference on Thursday arranged by Trump campaign surrogates in Las Vegas, including former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, a Republican, and former Trump intelligence official Ric Grenell.

The judge, a Barack Obama appointee, also denied the plaintiffs’ request to force Clark County, home to Las Vegas, to let observers get closer to the ballot-counting process.

Gordon said Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who attended the hearing, was following state law and it wasn’t up to a judge to change the state’s election procedures. In coming to that conclusion, the judge cited an October opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who held in a related case that state courts should interpret state laws.

The case is Stokke v. Cegavske, 20-cv-02046, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

— With assistance by David Voreacos

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