WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Oct. 21, the Nevada Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part an emergency petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and a voter challenging aspects of Nye County, Nevada’s 2022 ballot counting process for violating federal and state law. In their petition filed on Oct. 17, the petitioners alleged that changes to Nye County’s election process — including 1) the adoption of a hand counting procedure that involves “the verbal announcement of a selected candidate for each race of each ballot prior to the close of polls on election day, in the presence of the public,” 2) the “limitation of [Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant] touch screens” and 3) the imposition of strict signature matching requirements including the need to present voter identification if the signature verification fails — violate the Help America Vote Act, Nevada Constitution and Nevada law. The petitioners’ request for emergency relief filed in the Nevada Supreme Court ensued after they filed a similar lawsuit against Nye County election officials — challenging the county’s newly implemented election process — which was dismissed on Oct. 12 for procedural reasons.
In today’s unanimous decision, the Nevada Supreme Court held that Nye County is prohibited from live streaming the vote counting process in which election results are read aloud prior to polls closing on Election Day. The court specifically ordered “all observers to certify that they will not prematurely release any information regarding the vote count process before then and ensure public observers do not prematurely learn any election results.” With regards to the petitioners’ concerns about the county’s ostensibly limited accessibility to ADA touch screens for voters with disabilities, the court held that “since respondents have acknowledged that they will provide access to the touchscreen machine to all voters who seek to use it, regardless of any explanation of need, writ relief is not warranted as to this procedure.” Finally, the court ruled that the county’s strict signature verification procedures — which require identification from a voter if the verification process fails — contravene Nevada law. In particular, the opinion noted that “[a]ny limitation on the ability to prove identity by restricting the available options to confirming an address or providing an identification card clearly violates the law giving voters three ways to prove identity, if needed to confirm their signature on the ballot.” Ultimately, this decision is a win for Nye County voters who can rest assured that election results will not be released prematurely, ADA-compliant touch screens cannot be refused to voters who request them and options for verifying one’s signature are not limited to presenting a singular form of identification.