Right-Wing Group Attempts to Purge More Than a Thousand Nevada Voters

A spokesperson for Washoe County said that recent efforts to purge hundreds of voters in the Nevada county don’t follow proper procedure.

Earlier this week the Pigpen Project — a right-wing group in Nevada attempting to eliminate over a thousand eligible voters across the state — claimed to have identified 364 ineligible voters on Washoe County’s voter registration rolls, and submitted them to the county’s registrar for removal.  

“There is legal procedure in place to challenge the residency and eligibility of a voter. These third-party efforts to remove voters do not follow those procedures, and it’s important for voters to know that we follow the law,” Bethany Drysdale, a spokesperson for Washoe County, said in an emailed statement to Democracy Docket. “It is a voter’s responsibility to update their registration by notifying our office, and without their consent there are extensive steps defined by statute that must be taken before we can make any changes that would affect their ability to vote.” 

The Pigpen Project — who works closely with the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), another right-wing group attempting to purge voters from registration rolls across the country — claimed to have identified nearly 1,000 Nevada voters across 10 counties to be removed from the rolls. “The Pigpen Project and Public Interest Legal Foundation both submitted lists of names that their organizations believe are not eligible to be registered to vote in Washoe County, and both ask the Registrar of Voters to take action based on their specific findings,” Drysdale said. 

Democracy Docket will update this article as more information becomes available. 

Original post, June 13

The Pigpen Project, a right-wing group formed in 2023 to “clean up” Nevada’s voter registration rolls, is attempting to purge more than a thousand voters from the Silver State.

According to a recent blog post by the group’s founder, Chuck Muth, the group recently submitted “over 1,000 names to 10 of Nevada’s 17 county clerks/registrars who, according to existing laws, can and should mail a ‘confirmation’ postcard that, if not returned in 33 days, would result in the voter being moved from “active” to “inactive” status before the November general election.”

A spokesperson for the Nevada Secretary of State’s office did not confirm to Democracy Docket if the list of voters submitted by the Pigpen Project resulted in any removals from county registration rolls. “The Secretary of State’s Office takes every allegation of election integrity violations very seriously and investigates them to the full extent of the law,” the spokesperson told Democracy Docket in a statement. 

Democracy Docket also reached out to the registrars of Clark and Washoe counties — where the Pigpen Project claims to have identified 864 cumulative voters who should be removed from the registration rolls. We have not heard back if those voters were removed from the rolls.

The Pigpen Project, “named after the Charlie Brown comic character who always walked around with a cloud of dirt and dust following him” according to the group’s own website, was formed by Muth — a longtime Nevada-based conservative activist and lobbyist — in the wake of 2020 and 2022 election conspiracy theories about mass voter fraud. The group is one of several that recently popped up across the country with a laser-focused mission to investigate state voter rolls across the country ahead of the 2024 election. The Pigpen Project was featured in a recent New York Times exposé about right-wing activists investigating and challenging voter registrations in key swing states like Georgia and Nevada in “an all-but-unnoticed effort that could have an impact in a close or contentious election.”

Since its founding last year, the Pigpen Project has been recruiting volunteers to pour over voter registration data in each state to try and see how many inactive or ineligible voters are registered to vote — and report them to county clerks and registrars. 

Under Nevada law, anyone is able to gain access to the Statewide Voter Registration List (SVRL). But state law prohibits third parties, like the Pigpen Project, from using information gained from the SVRL for any purpose not related to an election. Furthermore, while it’s not illegal for a group like the Pigpen Project to comb through the publicly available data from the SVRL and try to conduct their own list maintenance to submit to a county registrar, state law says that clerks can’t solely rely on external, “non-governmental sources of information” and need to independently confirm if a voter should be removed from a county’s voter registration roll. 

According to the New York Times, the Pigpen Project is working with a variety of election deniers and questionable platforms, like former Donald Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell, True the Vote and VoteRef — an online database of semi-public voter information that’s proven unreliable. In its June 10 blog post, Muth writes that the Pigpen Project was selected to “beta test” a new software program that uses data from the National Change of Address lists to match with the voter registration information it obtains — from unreliable databases like VoterRef. 

But the Pigpen Project is engaging in another method to verify voter data — one that is both inaccurate and may violate federal law: going door-to-door to verify people’s voter registration. According to Muth, the Pigpen Project has been “extremely effective” in its “boots on the ground” tactics, which includes having volunteers show up to addresses obtained from voter registration rolls to have current residents sign forms “to confirm that a registered active voter at their address no longer lives there.” Muth writes that the Pigpen Project’s canvassing efforts have identified “a lot of people on our voter rolls who shouldn’t be.” 

Nevada statute emphasizes that, whatever information is given to county clerks for determining a voter’s eligibility, it needs to be verified to be “uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” And canvassing efforts from outside groups isn’t always “uniform” or “nondiscriminatory.” In 2023, a right-wing group called the NY Citizens Audit sent volunteers claiming to be state election officials canvassing people’s addresses they got from the state’s public voter registration database. The effort resulted in a cease-and-desist order from New York Attorney General Letitia James explaining that the group is violating state and federal VRA laws, along with the federal Ku Klux Klan Act, by intimidating voters. 

It’s unclear if the Pigpen Project’s door-to-door efforts violate state or federal law, but guidance from the Nevada Secretary of State’s office emphasizes that county “clerks may not rely on information from external sources absent further investigation into whether such information complies with state and federal law, and such further investigation must be approved by their respective board of commissioners.”

Learn more about the threat of mass voter challenges here.