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Nye County Wins Against ACLU of Nevada in Ballot Hand-Counting Controversy

There were hints that hand counts might continue beyond the “deadline.” But Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf clarified to RedState that the hand count would stop following Thursday evening’s deadline because the ballots are required to be sealed as per law and then placed in vaults.

Nevada's rural Nye County is the epicenter of political speculation as well as legal battles. After losing the initial legal battle, Nye County has won the most recent one. But it's not yet over.

In late October, during the early voting period, Nye County was required by Secretary of State (SOS) John McGovern to cease counting ballots by hand following the State Supreme Court issuing a ruling. It was the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada that filed a lawsuit on the day of the count, with fears that observers might see the results and tallies could be made available to the public before state law allows. In the end, Nye County was barred from continuing the hand counts until after the polls closed on Election Day while working with the SOS towards a new approach to ensure compliance.

In the spring of this year, Nye County decided to employ a parallel tabulation technique, which means that votes are counted using machines and tabulated with hand counts. The ACLU of Nevada has been opposing the resolution, not just in Nye but in all counties that are considering similar resolutions.

On Tuesday, the Nevada State Supreme Court rejected the ACLU of Nevada's request to yet again stop the hand counts. The ACLU argued, along with the Brennan Center for Justice, in an emergency motion filed on Monday that the hand counting was an illegal audit. The court noted that the hand count and procedure were accepted in the SOS and were not explicitly restricted by state law. The motion was rejected unanimously by the high court.

The “deadline” was set for Thursday evening prior to the official certification of the vote totals by Nye, but it didn't seem likely that the hand counts would be completed within this timeframe. Computerized tabulations will be used to determine Nye's final results. There are indications that hand counts will continue beyond Nye’s “deadline.”

The ACLU's legal proceedings preventing the counting of the votes prior to the closing of Election Day are being touted as the reason why the hand counts will not be completed before certification.

Nye County officials issued a statement that reads:

“Nye County is pleased with yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling and looks forward to completing the hand count as approved by the Secretary of State. Although the County has been happy to follow the guidance from and respect the decisions of the Supreme Court, it seems as if the ACLU holds itself to a different standard. So, we are glad the Court has invalidated this most recent attempt to thwart the hand count, given the Court had clearly indicated previously that crafting a compliant hand count process was something for the County and the Secretary of State to work out (and not the ACLU).”

Concerning the lessons gained or learned from the tabulation process, in the event of differences discovered, what actions will be taken is still to be determined. All eyes across the country will be on rural Nye County to see what follows.

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