Every cycle Nevada seems to draw claims of voter fraud, malfunctioning machines, and questionable results. Residents having reservations about the accuracy of elections continues to grow. Several legal attempts by candidates, and different groups, to audit the system has been unsuccessful.
Trump often claims “the system is rigged.” Some Nevadans agree with his statements and have tried several times to expose problems with the electronic voting machines used in Nevada. Other states like Virginia have banned these electronic voting machines.
As reported by National Public Radio (NPR) “Computer security experts have warned for years that some voting machines are vulnerable to attack. And this week, in Virginia, the state Board of Elections decided to impose an immediate ban on touchscreen voting machines used in 20 percent of the state’s precincts, because of newly discovered security concerns.”
Also reported by Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet August 7, 2007: According to Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., “It is not really new,” said Holt, speaking of the design flaws that prompted California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, also a Democrat, to issue a series of directives ordering counties to replace most of the touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems by the Feb. 5, 2008, primary. Bowen acted after University of California computer security experts issued a detailed report finding the machines could not prevent people from altering vote counts.”
Strong opposition from Nevada officials controlling the election system is puzzling to many. In Clark County, the largest county in the state, the Registrar, Joe Gloria, boast of transparency but his words and actions just don’t match according to some 2016 primary candidates.
In the 2016 Nevada primary election, five candidates, Diana Orrock AD9, Blain Jones AD21, Mary Rooney AD41, Connie Foust AD19, and Steve Sanson AD13, filed an “Election Contest.” Based on Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) the five are claiming “possible malfunction of the voting machines.”
NRS 293.410 states: An election may be contested upon any of the following grounds: (f) That there was a possible malfunction of any voting or counting device.
The candidates hired a professional exit polling company to perform daily polling each day of the two-week early voting schedule. Jones, Orrock, and Rooney, expected to win easily based on the exit polling results. Foust and Sanson were shown to be in a tight race and hoped to pull out a win on election day, June 14, 2016.
There were reports of voting machine problems and computer malfunctions in Nevada’s Nye County published in the Pahrump Valley Times. Nye County Commissioner, Butch Borasky, said: “The problem is with the scrolls that tie into the computers and we are already in the process of digging some money out of whatever account we need to take care of that in the future.” The scrolls are the printed paper that voters read to verify their choices before submitting their vote on touch screen computers.
A county election official in Washoe County placed a call to Diana Orrock claiming he was tasked to conduct mock voting on the machines to ensure accuracy. Upon his testing, it was found that the new software implemented for the 2016 election was incompatible with their existing printing software. According to the county election employee, Washoe County replaced printing software and printers and repeated the testing on May 27th, the day before early voting began. Following the first day of early voting, it was discovered that problems remained, and the county replaced some 900 machines after voting started. The whistle-blower admitted this was against the law, as was the counties intentional decision in not reporting the voting machines replacement to SOS, Barbara Cegavske. Because of these actions, the informer insisted on remaining anonymous.
In light of the reported malfunctions in two other counties and the fact that exit polling was so far off, three of the candidates commissioned audit reports by precinct showing that the counties numbers did not match their website reporting. On election night, Clark County reported election result final percentages when as many as 14 out of the 32 precincts had not yet reported. According to the auditor, that would be impossible to do.
District Judge, Michelle Leavitt, ultimately dismissed the candidate’s petition seeking to view the printed scrolls. According to NRS, the Judge can allow inspection of the printed records in an “Election Contest.”
Matching the printed paper to electronic totals would not disclose names of voters or how they voted but would give voters the confidence in Nevada’s election system. It remains unclear why Judge Leavitt refused to allow the simple comparison provided for in NRS.
The candidates are considering appealing the decision based on Leavitt’s disregard for clear statutes that gives not only candidates but any registered voter, the ability to gain access to this information in an Election Contest.
“I find it hard to believe the judge discounted the evidence and denied our request because the statutes clearly give us the right to compare the paper and electronic results” stated Blain Jones. He went on to say that he had no idea if the results could overturn election results but that was not the goal. “Our goal was to prove or disprove that Nevada’s voting system is accurate.”
Mr. Jones may have a valid point considering a variety of election anomalies occurring election after election in the Silver State. In 2010, Sharron Angle challenged Harry Reid for a US Senate seat. The race drew national attention allowing Angle to raise 27 million in small donations. Angle was favored to win with a 4-6-point lead just days before the election according to all the major polling firms. Reid won the election by 9 points, a 15-point swing.
In 2014, a homeless man, Mike Monroe, filed to run in Nevada Congressional District 4 (CD4). Monroe filed to run but did no campaigning whatsoever. Two other well-known candidates, Niger Innis and Cresent Hardy, campaigned heavily, both spending considerable money. Monroe ended up receiving 20% of the vote, a number that is extremely hard to believe according to Bob Frank of the Voter Integrity Task Force.
Frank and his team have been working to expose problems with Nevada’s elections system, but according to Frank, “at every turn, we meet strong opposition from officials.”
Frank testified at a hearing before the Nevada Legislature in 2015. He and his group want legislation passed ensuring an end to end election integrity and a foolproof security plan. The group’s bill met opposition from legislators, and their proposed bill failed to make it out of committee.
Nevada Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, proposed legislation for Voter ID, but many involved in the Voters Task Force see it as a halfhearted attempt because she did not even bother to show up to testify for passage of her bill. In fact, they believe Cegavske has done nothing to assure voters that the state’s elections are fair and accurate. One candidate put it like this: “She is well aware that Nevada suffers problems election after election with reports of fraud and suspect results, yet she does zero, I mean zero.”
Another put it like this: “There are more than enough rumors and verified reports that point to possible sinister election results in Nevada. The question is when will officials stop, what appears to be, hiding all parts of the process from Nevadans?”
According to Nevada campaign consultant, Laurel Fee, “there are just so many reports of election shenanigans in this state you would think the officials would be eager to prove our elections are fair and honest. It doesn’t matter how you confront the issue; they will spend as much time and money as it takes to reject attempts to audit our voting system.” Fee went on to say, “I sure hope Trump and his team look into our state election system because if it’s like past elections, no matter what the polls say, Trump will lose Nevada.
The candidates who filed the contest say an appeal is warranted, but they feel like every other attempt, officials will find a way to reject their ability to view the paper results. Like Trump, they believe, especially the Nevada election system, may be rigged. Financial cost for an appeal could run thousands, and they are unsure if they will do so.
According to Jones, “It’s all of them, election officials, the registrar, county clerk, secretary of state, legislators, even the district attorney and our judges fight every effort to analyze our elections, it’s hard to overcome the power they collectively generate.”
Fee agreed “how can you expose any potential fraud when even our district court judges don’t follow the law?”
They say they would welcome the help of Donald Trump who they believe has the clout and the bully pulpit for some firm pressure on election officials and expose judges who fail to follow the law.
Nevada is considered a “battleground” state when it comes to presidential elections. Trump has been to the Silver state drawing large crowds and easily won the presidential caucus in February 2016. Voting machines are not used in the caucus because each political party runs their own caucus and are responsible for counting the votes.
Why Nevada still uses devices proven to be unreliable in other states as far back as 2007 is worrisome and a question best answered by Nevada SOS, Barbara Cegavske.
By DiMarkco Chandler
NPR Vulnerable Voting Machine Raises Questions About Election Security
AlterNet The Fallout From California’s Ban on Electronic Voting Machines
Interviews Blain Jones, Laurel Fee, Bob Frank
Image Courtesy www.inquisitr.com Via Creative Commons