Las Vegas Sun

May 6, 2021

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EDITORIAL:

Upon even further review, claims of widespread voter fraud still false

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Wade Vandervort

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske attends Table Top the Vote 2018, a national election cyber exercise that is being hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Monday, Aug. 13, 2018.

The Nevada state Republican Party’s lie about massive voter fraud in last year’s presidential election is officially dead and buried. It lies beneath a mountain of proof revealed in a review headed by one of the party’s own leaders, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

In so doing, Cegavske reminded Nevadans that some members of the state’s GOP still have integrity, despite loathsome evidence to the contrary by important figures in the party. Honorable Republicans should rally around Cegavske. You’ll be able to spot the corrupt members of the party easily because they’ll be the ones attacking her.

This past week, Cegavske announced that her office had completed its review and had found no evidence of the GOP’s allegations that tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots had been cast in the state. The autopsy revealed in detail what most Nevadans had expected all along — that the narrative about fraud was a toxic stew of mistruths and wild exaggerations. Or, as Deputy Secretary for Elections Mark Wlaschin wrote in a letter about the findings, the fable was “based largely upon an incomplete assessment of voter registration records and lack of information concerning the processes by which these records are compiled and maintained.”

The outcome of the review wasn’t surprising, given that the GOP had lost legal cases stemming from its false claims in Nevada and in courts across the country. But it reveals just how outrageously and irresponsibly the Republican leadership acted in making the claim.

For instance, the GOP claimed it uncovered proof that 21,142 people voted twice, but Cegavske’s office verified that 2,828 of those people voted just once and the remaining 18,314 pairs of ballots had distinct differences in personal information — names, addresses, birthdates, etc. Another example: Republicans alleged that 1,506 dead people voted, but a check of records through the state Office of Vital Statistics showed that 10 ballots had been cast under the names of deceased individuals. Cegavske and her team reported those cases to law enforcement.

Other GOP claims, including that nearly 6,500 ballots were filed by noncitizens or people who had moved away from Nevada, were either proven false or were shown to lack conclusive proof.

The upshot is what election officials across the country have told us: There were isolated instances of voter fraud, but not on a scale where it would have influenced the outcome of the presidential election and other key races. And the few instances of fraud were neither one-sided nor organized; they were the actions of individuals who broke the rules to benefit both presidential candidates.

That doesn’t mean voter fraud isn’t a concern — it definitely is, and verification systems should be tightened to reduce it. But in Congress and in the Nevada Legislature, lawmakers are considering bills that would do just that while also ensuring that voting remains accessible and convenient.

If the state GOP were a responsible organization, it would support those efforts and issue an apology to Nevadans and to Cegavske after the release of her report. Cegavske, after all, represented the party extremely well as a member of the Legislature from 1996 through 2014 and as the only Republican to win statewide office in 2018.

But don’t hold your breath for that apology. Nevada Republicans have been on the attack against Cegavske ever since she certified the results of President Joe Biden’s win in Nevada — in fact, the state party voted this month to censure her — and show no indication they’ll abandon their toxic lie about voter fraud.

The truth is that Cegavske and other voting officials in Nevada, including Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria and his team, did a remarkable job last fall in managing an election with record turnout despite the challenges of the pandemic. Cegavske further served Nevadans well by dutifully investigating the state GOP’s claim, despite how bogus it was.

The Republicans, on the other hand, just cost taxpayers the time and effort it took for Cegavske’s office to investigate the party’s politically motivated snipe hunt. If the GOP gave a damn about the best interests of Nevadans, they’d reimburse the state for those costs. The secretary of state’s office told the Sun that the review took 125 hours to complete and involved 12 staff members, whose wages for the project amounted to nearly $8,000.

But the accusations of fraud were never truly about maintaining integrity of the election or protecting democracy. The motivations were exactly the opposite — to overturn the results of a free and fair election, and establish minority rule.

The scam was brought to you by such individuals as Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general and failed gubernatorial candidate, who spearheaded the party’s lawsuits in Nevada on behalf of the Trump campaign. With many people expecting that Laxalt will vie against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., in 2022, here’s a pre-election note to him: If indeed your name turns up on the ballot, Mr. Laxalt, Nevadans will remember your ringleader role in the election lie. The same goes for other Republican candidates who promoted it.

As the review by Cegavske’s office has once again proven, you attacked us all by attempting to undermine our democracy.