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ACLU of Nevada calls for investigation into alleged partisan count

RENO, Nev. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on Wednesday called on the state’s secretary of state to investigate what he called a “coordinated partisan election administration effort” during the manual count of absentee ballots in rural Nye County which was closed until the polls closed last week.

The ACLU said a hand count volunteer openly carrying a gun removed an ACLU observer from a hand count room, whom the organization recently discovered was the vice president of the central committee of the Nye County GOP, Laura Larsen.

The ACLU said the situation “raises questions” about Acting Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf’s delegation of authority to partisan officials to remove observers from manual counting rooms, particularly during a process manual counting process which deals with the tabulation of ballots.

“A partisan Nye County GOP Central Committee official allowed to roam the halls freely and remove those who engage in observation violates the fundamental principles underlying free and safe elections and further mocks our democracy,” said ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar. Haseebullah said in a statement.

It’s the latest development in a row between the rural county election administration and the ACLU that has spanned lawsuits, infighting and a Nevada Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 27 that prompted Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, to close the hand- count until the polls close on Election Day.

Several ACLU members showed up on the first day of the hand count Wednesday in Pahrump, an hour from Las Vegas.

Kampf said last week that the ACLU observer in question was suspected of tallying votes, which is prohibited when observing the manual tally. Volunteers locked the entrance room door that led to the hand count rooms due to the incident with the ACLU, several volunteers said at the time. A volunteer was responsible for opening the door to all observers or volunteers who entered.

A Nye County spokesperson did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Wednesday evening. Neither Larsen nor the Nye County GOP Central Committee Chairman.

Nye County halted its manual count process on Friday due to orders from the Secretary of State’s office regarding the early release of results after two days of manual counting. It came in response to a new Nevada Supreme Court opinion in favor of the Nevada chapter of the ACLU, which argued, among other things, that reading the ballots risked publishing the early election tally.

Despite the delay, Kampf told a meeting of the Nye County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that he had submitted a new manual count plan to the Secretary of State’s office which he hoped to have approved this week. The Supreme Court ruling challenging the reading of ballots aloud said it was up to the secretary of state and the county to ensure the legality of the manual count.

Larsen was present on both days of the hand count, acting in what appeared to be an assistant role to Kampf, who had vowed months ago to bring the hand count to the rural county at the behest of the county commission.

She often visited different hand counting rooms to make sure the hand counting teams – made up of a reader, a checker and three tally clerks – had equipment and were counting correctly.

On the first day, when a reader was struggling with the pace at which to announce the candidates, Larsen walked into the hand count room, sat in the reader’s chair, and read the names herself to demonstrate good rhythm to announce the names.

The reader apologized and Larsen said, “It’s better to get it right than not get it right at all. Don’t say you’re sorry.

In an interview after the first day of hand counting, Larsen said his role was to “make sure things happen the way Mark (Kampf) has it all set up. So just looking after the integrity of the elections.

Kampf described the county’s Dominion tabulators as a potential temporary measure while he decides how to handle counts for future elections. But machines will remain the primary mechanism for recording this election, despite manual counting.

Nye County, which has a population of about 50,000, including about 33,000 registered voters, is the most important county in the United States to have changed its vote counting process in reaction to conspiracy theories – even if it does not There was no evidence of fraud or widespread manipulation of machines in the 2020 election.

Nye County commissioners voted to hand-count all ballots after complaints from residents echoing nearly two years of conspiracy theories linked to voting machines and false claims that the presidential election of 2020 was stolen from former President Donald Trump. It came as Republican nominee for Secretary of State Jim Marchant repeated unsubstantiated campaign claims to the commissioners, which convinced them to call for a hand count.

The most populous county in the continental United States that relies exclusively on manual counting is Owyhee County, Idaho, which has one-fifth of Nye County’s registered voters.

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