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Trump campaign sues Nevada over universal vote-by-mail law

Erik Larson

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee sued to block Nevada’s plan to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters as a result of the pandemic, saying it violates federal law.

The plan – passed by the state legislature on Sunday – will lead to ballots being sent to incorrect and outdated addresses as well as force election officials to count votes received after Election Day because the prepaid envelopes required under the new law won’t be postmarked, according to the complaint filed late Tuesday in federal court in Nevada.

President Donald Trump listens to question during a briefing with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Trump has repeatedly suggested without evidence that mail-in ballots will lead to massive voter fraud, raising fears that he may contest the results of the November election. Democrats and election experts have said mail-in voting is safe and that examples of fraud are rare. The president has more recently distinguished between states. On Tuesday, he called mail-in voting in Florida, a crucial swing state he won in 2016, “safe and secure” but predicted “disaster” in Nevada, which he lost in the last election.

“Democrats know President Trump is gaining ground in Nevada, so they fully and fundamentally overhauled Nevada’s election laws in a rushed 72-hour attempt to rig the election,” Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser for the campaign, said in a statement.

A call and email to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, the Republican election official named in the suit, wasn’t immediately responded to before regular business hours.

The complaint cites problems Nevada allegedly had with mail-in ballots during its June primary, when the state moved to widespread mail-in voting for the first time. The suit quotes one unnamed Clark County voter who claimed to have found “about a dozen ballots pinned to the complex’s bulletin board or otherwise thrown around” and others in the trash.

“Another resident received a ballot at her home addressed to her deceased mother,” the campaign said in the complaint.

Alleging other states have encountered similar problems, the campaign and the RNC said more than 800 mail-in ballots had to be set aside in Paterson, New Jersey, after a May city council election “due to suspicion that they were gathered illegally,” including hundreds of ballots that were reportedly collected from the same mailbox.

Speaking on Fox News Tuesday morning, Trump said the Nevada law would delay election results by months or years. “If they sent, and they plan to send, these ballots to everybody that’s ever walked in the state of Nevada, it will be a disaster,” the president said.