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Proposal would require counties to return state money for voting machines if they don’t use them


by Michael Lyle, Nevada Current

With more counties planning to switch to hand-counting ballots, a proposal borne from unfounded claims of election fraud, lawmakers are mulling a bill that would require counties to return money allocated for voting machines if they go unused.

The proposed legislation, which is just entering the draft phase, wouldn’t be retroactive, so any county that chooses not to rely on machines this year wouldn’t have to return money if the legislation is enacted into law next year.

The Joint Interim Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections voted Monday to advance a bill draft request.

“At this moment in time, there would not be a county that would actually fall under having to return the funds to the state,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, the committee’s chair.

While the proposal advanced unanimously, several Republicans warned they wouldn’t vote on the measure during the next legislative session if the bill becomes retroactive.  

Election denier and secretary of state Republican candidate Jim Marchant has made appeals to several rural counties to switch to hand-counting arguing, without evidence, it is the only way to prevent massive voter fraud. 

In the aftermath of allegations launched by Republicans after the 2020 election, Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske conducted a review of the 2020 election and found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Nevada Republicans also initiated several legal challenges attempting to discredit or overturn the 2020 election results, none of which were deemed by courts to be based on credible evidence.

Nye County, whose upcoming election will be overseen by a Marchant ally and fellow election denier, recently appointed County Clerk Mark Kampf, is planning to use a hybrid hand-counting method this year.

The Secretary of State’s office recently approved regulations for counties that switch to hand-counting, but exempted Nye Country from the rules at Kampf’s request.

Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton said going forward it’s only fair to taxpayers that counties that make the switch refund any money they sought from the Legislature to update voting machines.  

“Usually when we give folks money they are thankful and they use it,” Carlton said. “It’s very sad to think that state dollars, taxpayer dollars, were given to a county and they bought machines and they are just gathering dust.”

Republican Assemblywoman Jill Dickman asked if counties could return machines rather than refund money. Miller said there are contractual issues that prevent that from happening. 

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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