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Cegavske shuts down hand counting of ballots in Nye County


by Michael Lyle, Nevada Current

Nye County’s attempt to hand count ballots, a move that stemmed from conspiracy theories about voter fraud that was pushed by election deniers, “must cease immediately,” the secretary of state’s office said Thursday night. 

“The current Nye County hand counting process must cease immediately and may not resume until after the close of polls on November 8, 2022,” Nevada Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske wrote to Nye County interim Election Clerk Mark Kampf Thursday, in a letter tweeted Thursday night by The Associated Press.

“Nye County’s hand-count process for its short-lived lifespan was an utter disaster fueled by conspiracy theorists,” Athar Haseebullah, the executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, said in a statement. “While Nye County’s actions may be a sign of things to come, our response to their actions is also a sign of things to come…we will combat all efforts to destroy our democracy up and down Nevada.”

The ACLU sued Nye County this month over its proposed counting process arguing the county’s plans, which included livestreaming the counting and reading the vote tallies out loud, violated federal and state laws. 

After the Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled Oct. 21 that Nye County had to “refrain from livestreaming the hand-count read-aloud process prior to the close of the polls” on Nov. 8, Nye officials pushed forward with plans to hand-count. 

Following the Oct. 21 ruling, Mark Wlaschin, the elections deputy with the secretary of state’s office, asked Nye to explain how it would proceed in light of the ruling. 

Attorneys with Marquis Aurbach, which is representing the county and interim election clerk Mark Kampf, sent the secretary of state’s office a letter Monday saying they planned to comply with the ruling. 

But attorneys argued the court “did not explicitly bar the ‘read-aloud’ element of the County’s hand count process.”

Sadmira Ramic, a voting rights attorney with the ACLU of Nevada, sent a letter to the office Tuesday saying Nye County misinterpreted the order.

Officials from the ACLU, including Haseebullah, observed the first day of hand counting in Nye and warned not only that “a historic disaster is brewing,” but that they saw tally teams reading aloud which candidates are selected on ballots and disclosing information to observers in the room.  

The ACLU asked the Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday for a clarification on its decision. The Court sided with the ACLU.

The secretary of state’s office instructed the county that hand counting, which Nye began Wednesday, can’t proceed until they can figure out a way not to violate a Nevada Supreme Court ruling. 

“We have fought tooth and nail to make sure all election laws are followed in every county, and we will always fight to protect Nevada’s elections,” Ramic said in a statement. “Our position has always been that a general election is not an appropriate avenue for conducting experiments with election processes, and it has become increasingly clear that there is no path forward for this hand counting process under the law.”

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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