Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010 | 6:48 p.m.
State and local election officials reiterated Wednesday that they have seen no evidence of voter fraud in early voting and have not received any credible complaints of any fraud taking place.
Secretary of State Ross Miller and Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax held a press conference to discuss alleged fraud reported by campaigns.
“We have not had a single complaint filed into my office or the FBI office regarding many of the claims that we’re hearing most strenuously from the public about,” Miller said.
Supporters of Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle first alleged cases of fraud, and supporters of Democratic Sen. Harry Reid leveled accusations of suppressing voters.
Miller, a Democrat running for re-election, said such claims are “unfortunate and frankly, irresponsible, because they undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process.”
The secretary of state, who is responsible for overseeing elections, helped form an Election Integrity Task Force in 2008 with the FBI, state attorney general and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate voter fraud.
“Our phone’s been ringing off the hook with people that have heard these allegations and are very angry about it but, again, nobody has personally witnessed it or seen the activity or (can) point us to a specific contact person that we can further the investigation with,” Miller said.
“We will go out and investigate to the extent that we can find it, but we need some shred of something,” Miller said. “Sherlock Holmes and Columbo had something to start with; they’re giving us nothing other than these rumors that just keep circulating.”
Lomax, who oversees elections in the state’s largest county, commented on the national interest in the race.
“I’m making new friends all around the country, because this is going national,” he said. “I’m getting e-mails from people all around the country who want to know what’s going on.”
He said he tells everyone sufficient steps have been taken to prevent fraud.
There have been three specific rumors circulating about fraud in Nevada, each of which was dismissed by Miller and Lomax.
KVVU Channel 5 reported that a voter’s electronic machine in Boulder City had Reid’s name preselected when she tried to vote for Angle.
The election officials said they have not received any complaints of that nature and it is not technologically possible for that to happen.
The machines are each certified and verified by state and federal officials before the election, Lomax said. “I am absolutely confident the machines are functioning as intended,” he said.
What is possible, however, is for a voter to accidently touch part of the machine with a finger or sample ballot without realizing it, which could select a name, Lomax said. But the voter would be able to change the selection and would have to confirm it on the screen before the vote is cast.
The second type of rumors involve people paying voters to support a certain candidate, Miller said.
“All we’ve heard are a bunch of rumors that are circulating that they hear this activity is taking place. Not one person has reported it,” he said.
Other rumors stem from the only actual complaint officials have received, which came from a lawyer from the state Republican Party pointing out discrepancies in the voter logs.
The discrepancies are between the number of people who sign in to vote and the number of votes actually cast.
Oficials said the problem is likely a result of human error, because election workers are dealing with large numbers at polling places.
In early voting at the Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson, for example, workers are using 45 machines to serve between 2,000 and 4,000 voters a day, Lomax said.
“This poor lady at the end of the day has to go out there with her little calculator and add all this stuff up manually,” Lomax said. “So it is very possible that the two won’t add up the same, and human error is the reason. Now there’s other reasons, but it can also be human error.”
Lomax declined to discuss specifics of the discrepancies until final results are calculated, but he said he has resolved all of them that have been reported so far.
In addition, Miller’s office has launched an independent investigation into the disparities.
“We’ve seen discrepancies in these logs every election,” Miller said. “I’m not concerned about them whatsoever. We’re going to conduct a complete investigation, but upon initial review, I can assure the public that my sense is that these discrepancies arise because elections are part equipment but mostly people.”
Miller, however, had stronger words for the Republican letter alleging fraud.
“I think it’s an unfortunate letter and one that is wildly irresponsible absent of specific documenting facts to back it up. You don’t see any evidence that this is occurring; it just broadly and vaguely refers to reports that there is some vote fraud that is occurring out there,” he said.
Lomax said there will always be people who are suspicious of the voting process.
“I don’t think they’d trust us if we had paper ballots. It really wouldn’t matter,” he said. “They’re suspicious of government, and they’re also suspicious of electronic voting machines.”
But the “feeding frenzy” occurring now is unjustified, he said. “I want everyone to have confidence,” he said.