Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 | 2 a.m.
When Adam Laxalt became Nevada’s attorney general in 2015, he took an oath of office in which he swore to “support, protect and defend” the constitutions and laws of the U.S. and Nevada. Now he’s trying to set fire to them.
Laxalt, the Trump campaign’s Nevada co-chair, has targeted the heart of American democracy — citizens’ right to vote and have their ballot counted -- in an attempt to game another term for President Donald Trump through the courts.
The latest in this long-running assault came Thursday, when Laxalt and his team filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the vote count in Nevada. In a news conference, Laxalt claimed without evidence that “many” illegitimate ballots had been cast -- some of which had been issued to deceased voters, others cast by voters who were ineligible because they lived out of state.
Same old song, new verse: Republicans have been making these groundless claims for years, and claims of widespread voter fraud have been repeatedly disproven. Even the task force that Trump activated in 2016 in hopes of proving his claims of losing the popular vote because of fraud couldn’t find anything.
Meanwhile, Nevada has verification protocols in place to weed out illegitimate ballots and protect against voter fraud, as well as a bipartisan counting process. Contrary to the GOP’s hallucinogenic claims of voter fraud, there’s no valid reason to believe anything untoward is happening in this year’s process.
But with Trump facing losses in Nevada and other states hanging in the balance, he’s cranking out junk lawsuits to circumvent the election process. The campaign also filed suits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, and demanded a recount after losing Wisconsin. Delirious by the far right conspiracy universe, some of Trump’s followers are bringing guns to the tabulation offices in an effort to intimidate officials.
Enter Laxalt, Trump’s pet rat in Nevada. Laxalt already tried and failed to delay the count, when a Carson City district judge denied their request Monday in a ruling that practically laughed them out of court. The words “no evidence” appeared about as often as “and” and “or.”
But there’s nothing funny about Laxalt’s work for Trump.
This is a man who not only served as the state’s top prosecutor but ran for governor in 2018. If and when he runs again, Nevadans should remember that he attempted to undermine their voting rights. Worse, he clearly believes that facts, evidence and truth don’t matter in the face of political expediency – a dangerous and disqualifying trait in anyone who seeks to represent the public and uphold the law. By trying to stop their votes from being counted, Laxalt is disrespecting all Nevadans who braved coronavirus and voted in record numbers.
As Joe Biden aptly put it on Thursday, “Power can’t be taken or asserted. It flows from the people. And it’s their will that determines who will be the president of the United States, and their will alone.”
Fortunately, Nevada voters showed the good judgment in 2018 to elect Steve Sisolak over Laxalt, along with a group of moderate legislators. Those lawmakers passed a package of voter access measures to allow for safer and more convenient voting during the pandemic — which, naturally, Laxalt and the Republicans tried to derail in the courts. They lost, with good reason.
But imagine how things would have gone if Laxalt had been in the governor’s office. Certainly, the emergency voting measures passed by the Legislature would have been vetoed. And Laxalt no doubt would have interfered in Clark County’s elections operations, which have been commendably aimed at expanding voter access and convenience.
Nevadans sent him packing for a good reason when he ran for governor. And this latest effort to disrespect Nevada voters is doing nothing to suggest the voters got it wrong in 2018.