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Hand counting ballots OK, judge rules

A Carson City District Court judge denied a group’s attempt to stop counties from hand counting ballots in the Nov. 8 election.

Judge James Wilson ruled this week against the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada’s motion asking to prohibit the Nevada secretary of state’s office from authorizing counties to engage in hand counting.

Nye County has decided to implement hand counting in its elections, and in response the Nevada secretary of state adopted regulations on Aug. 26 for how counties should conduct hand counting.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada challenged the move on Aug. 31 and filed a motion for preliminary injunction Sept. 1, arguing that Nevada’s laws preclude hand counting ballots, and that hand counting could disenfranchise voters.

Wilson ruled that Nevada’s law does not prohibit the use of hand counting. Voting is permitted by a “mechanical voting system,” but it is optional, he wrote in his order.

Wilson also wrote that the right to a uniform, statewide standard for counting votes does not require counties and cities to use only one method of counting votes, but rather it is a statewide standard for what qualifies as a vote.

“Having some cities or counties use hand counting and others use mechanical voting systems does not violate voters’ right to a uniform, statewide standard for counting votes,” Wilson wrote.

PLAN had argued that the regulation could disenfranchise certain voters, but Wilson wrote the organization failed to show that.

“There is no evidence that hand counting will be used as the primary method of tabulating the votes in the November 2022 general election. As of today, no counties have submitted a plan to do so in accordance with the regulation,” Wilson wrote.

Nye County plans to count votes through an electronic voting tabulator, and then hand count them after. The votes from the electronic voting tabulator will be used to determine the election results and will be sent to the secretary of state’s office. As a result of the order, Nye County’s election process is set to continue as planned Nov. 8.

The Nevada secretary of state’s regulations set minimum standards for two tallies of the vote, shift limitations, tally standards and tally team compositions. A city or county wanting to use hand counting has to submit a plan at least 30 days before the election, and if it doesn’t comply with the regulations, it cannot use hand counting to determine the election results, Wilson wrote.

As a result of the order, Nye County’s election process is set to continue as planned Nov. 8.

“We will let the court process play out, and we will continue to fight any law or regulation that may damage the ability for Nevada to have free and fair elections,” said PLAN Executive Director Laura Martin in a statement to the Review-Journal.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

PLAN v. Cegavske by Steve Sebelius on Scribd

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