Nevada fights Trump campaign arguments in mail-in voting court case

Nevada fights Trump campaign arguments in mail-in voting court case

The Nevada secretary of state has asked a federal court to dismiss a recent challenge from the Trump campaign to the state’s plan to send absentee ballots to all active voters.

The move positions Nevada to be a major battleground in the court fight over mail-in voting.

In the filing on Monday — six days after the Trump campaign first sued — Nevada’s lawyers told a judge that the debate over how to conduct mail-in voting shouldn’t be decided in court.

“The search for the proper balance between voter access and election integrity considerations is a matter for policy makers and legislators, not federal courts,” attorneys for Nevada argued.

Trump’s team asks the court to “scrutinize the policy wisdom of choices made by the Nevada Legislature” during its 2020 session as it prepares for the election amid a pandemic, the filing said.

Nevada also argued that the Trump campaign used only hypothetical situations, meaning it hasn’t yet been affected by the law.

Because the Trump campaign’s lawsuit “presents a policy debate, the debate should be carried out in a non-judicial forum, allowing the Secretary to use critical public resources to ensure a free and fair 2020 election, rather than be consumed by partisan discord,” Nevada’s attorneys wrote.

Earlier this month, Nevada lawmakers adopted a plan to mail ballots to all registered voters this November. The Democratic-controlled Legislature and Democratic governor approved the plan, which was protested by Republicans and quickly met with a lawsuit from the Trump campaign.

The Trump campaign has argued in court against multiple aspects of the state’s mail-in voting plan: that the plan could allow mail-in ballots to be cast after Election Day, that the state was disproportionately authorizing more polling places for urban areas and that the counting of votes would be inconsistent. In short, the Nevada law could prompt voter fraud, the campaign argued, hoping to invalidate it.

The Republican secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, did not support the change, according to The Associated Press, even though she oversaw Nevada’s all-mail primary elections in June. Because of procedural quirks, the Trump campaign sued Cegavske, but she is defended in court by state’s attorney general, a Democrat. Cegavske hasn’t made statements about the case itself outside of court.

All Nevadans who are active, registered voters will automatically receive general election ballots in the mail and won’t have to request absentee ballots. The Democrats’ plan for November also includes more than 100 traditional polling places that will be open for socially distanced in-person voting. Experts say it’s critical to keep some polling places open, even if vote-by-mail is expanded in a state.

In addition to Nevada, seven other states and Washington, DC, have universal vote-by-mail. Colorado, Washington state, Hawaii, Utah and Colorado always planned on having all-mail elections, and California, Vermont and DC switched to this method this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given the fears surrounding the pandemic, these vote-by-mail systems have great potential to prompt widespread voting by mail in the 2020 general election. Yet President Donald J. Trump has not sued the elected officials in” other states, lawyers for Nevada argue in their filing Monday.

There is not widespread voter fraud in US elections, and nonpartisan experts say neither party automatically benefits when states expand access to mail-in voting.

Blogs