WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Aug. 31, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) filed a lawsuit challenging Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s (R) recent guidance on ballot counting procedures. On Friday, Aug. 26, the secretary issued a temporary regulation that allows county recorders to hand count ballots (as opposed to using an electronic counter) at their discretion. Under this temporary regulation, county recorders can now choose to count ballots by hand for a subset of federal or state races or all races if they decide to do so. A county may also (but is not required to) use an electronic tabulator to validate the results of the hand count. Of note is that the secretary of state’s guidance does not mandate a uniform method of hand counting across counties. This is a departure from how past elections were conducted in the state, when all votes were tabulated in a similar manner using mechanical or electronic machines that complied with state and federal standards.
In its lawsuit filed today, PLAN argues that this temporary regulation will create chaos in tabulation processes across the state. Pointing out that the county recorder in Nye County has already stated he will conduct a “parallel tabulation” using both a mechanical tabulator and hand count, the plaintiff alleges that this rule allows “counties across Nevada to count votes in different ways, and even allows individual counties to count different votes differently, in direct violation of voters’ rights to a ‘uniform, statewide standard’ for counting votes accurately” in violation of both state and federal law. Notably, the current Nye County recorder replaced the previous recorder after she resigned over the county’s elimination of electronic voting machines. The lawsuit asks the court to block this temporary regulation ahead of the 2022 general election to ensure that uniform counting standards are in place across Nevada.