RNC, NVGOP Sue Nevada Secretary of State Over Bloated Voter Rolls

ISAAC BREKKEN

In a lawsuit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court, Nevada Republicans accuse state and county officials of poorly maintained voter registration rolls, leading to inconsistencies. The Republican National Committee (RNC), Nevada Republican Party (NV GOP), and Washoe County voter Scott Johnston allege that the Nevada Secretary of State, Cisco Aguilar, and four local officials, including Clark County Registrar of Voters Lorena Portillo, are in violation of the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law requiring states to maintain accurate voter rolls. The GOP seeks a permanent injunction forcing the state to follow the law and improve its voter list maintenance.

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Lawsuit Allegations

The Plaintiffs argue that the voter rolls in five local jurisdictions are inflated, with at least three counties having more registered voters than adult citizens aged 18 and above. Douglas County has 104 percent of adults registered to vote, Lyon County registered 105 percent, and Storey County boasts a whopping 113 percent.

Additionally, Clark County and Carson City have voter registration rates surpassing 90 percent of the adult population, significantly exceeding the national and statewide voter registration rates observed in recent elections.

The lawsuit argues,

 ...these five counties are significant outliers, touting voter registration rates 18 to 44 percentage points higher than the national figures from 2022 and 2020, and 25 to 48 percentage points above the State figures for the same period.

The suit claims that this scale of discrepancies does not translate into inordinate voter participation rates, evidencing that this discrepancy is caused by poorly maintained voter lists. The lawsuit says,

There is no evidence that these counties experienced above-average voter participation compared to the rest of the country or State. The only explanation for these discrepancies is substandard list maintenance.

The Republican plaintiffs also allege that government officials' failure to meet their obligations under NVRA caused the Plaintiffs to expend their limited resources to address the noncompliance issues. 

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Response to the Lawsuit

In December, the state Attorney General's office received a letter from the GOP threatening litigation over the alleged Voter Act violations. The AG's office responded in a detailed letter outlining their maintenance efforts and suggesting that the two data sets being cited by the GOP were like "comparing apples to orangutans.” 

However, Nevada's officials aren't the only ones opposing the GOP's recent actions. A local conservative organization engaged in cleaning voter rolls has labeled the GOP's lawsuit as "political theater." In January last year, Chuck Muth, a Nevada political strategist and President of the non-profit Citizens Outreach Foundation, launched the PigPen Project to address irregularities in voter rolls in the state. 

The PigPen Project derives its name from the Charlie Brown comic character known for walking around in constant clouds of dirt and dust. Its volunteers go door-to-door in Clark County to verify if all individuals listed as registered voters at a particular address truly reside there. Upon identifying discrepancies, volunteers fill out official forms and submit them to the registrar of voters for the removal of ineligible names from the voter list. To date, the PigPen Project has processed more than 1,000 names on Clark County’s voter rolls. 

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Forward Progress

While not all Nevada Republicans agree on tactics there is tangible progress being made, as reflected in the most recent voter registration report. The 2018 implementation of automated registration at DMVs was touted by leftist groups and Democrats as a policy win; instead, it has served to improve Republicans' standing in the state. Compulsory registration of non-white voters, particularly Hispanics, was thought to bolster Democrat registration numbers, but their advantage has been in decline ever since, and instead may propel Donald Trump to a second term in the White House. 

Nevada journalist Victor Joecks broke down the recent numbers in a social media post, writing, 

Great news for Trump in Nevada. GOP continues to close the gap in voter registration. D edge is now under 33,000 voters. In November 2020, D's voter registration edge was almost 87,000 votes. Biden won Nevada by less than 34,000 votes. This means Democrats voter registration advantage has shrunk by more votes than Biden won by in 2020.

Conservative organizations continue to push voter registration in the battleground state, with Turning Point USA planning to have volunteers at a gun show hosted at the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas over the weekend.

According to a recent poll, there's promising news for the Republican presidential nominee, former President Donald Trump, as he takes a three-point lead over President Joe Biden in Nevada, a swing state that Trump has not previously secured.


Disclosure: This author is acquainted with individuals named in this article and is an award recipient from Citizen's Outreach Foundation.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece was edited post-publication.)

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