Op-Ed: Confessions of a Nevada Election Denier

It all began last year. I thought I would read some of the election conspiracy theories hurled about on right-wing websites. If I learned enough about those lies I might be able to disprove them. That would be done in a book I would call “Debunked.” What a mistake! You see, even for a veteran auditor such as myself, election misinformation is powerful — and dangerous. It produces a type of illness, from which recovery is very slow. And there will be relapses. That was my situation. I had done far too much election research and was starting to go mad with crazy conspiratorial thoughts. I started to recover, but it required several months and many hours of watching MSNBC. Unfortunately, the recuperation ended with the 2022 midterm election. That was when I was triggered by Nevada’s very slow reporting of election results. The nightmares were back. Here is my story. Immediately after the 2022 midterm election, it looked as if Adam Laxalt would be the next senator from Nevada. But once the excruciatingly slow vote count began, I started to recall details of the “emergency” legislation passed in Nevada just a couple of months before the 2020 Trump-Biden election. Under Nevada’s temporary election law (later made permanent), voters no longer needed to request a mail-in or absentee ballot; and that was true even if they now resided in another state — or a cemetery. All voters on the registration list would be mailed a ballot automatically. There were reports of hundreds of ballots strewn on pavement, left in post offices and found on apartment hall floors. In fact, one postal worker wondered, “What’s going to happen with these things? They’re not secured at all and there are thousands of them just sitting here.” To vote in the 2020 election, a person could just pick up a few of the extra ballots, sign them, and mail them in. No identification was required except for a signature. And, if you were a fraudster, you did not need to worry about that: The signature standards were almost impossible to fail. Two county office workers would have to agree that the signature accompanying the ballot differed from the signature in the registration in “multiple, significant and obvious respects.” What were the chances of two people coming to such an agreement? Prior to the 2020 election, Victor Joecks, an innovative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, constructed a clever little signature test — one that Nevada failed miserably. He used his handwriting to write the names of several people. Those people then traced Joecks’ version of their signatures onto their ballots. The results? Eight of nine of these signatures were accepted without challenge. The new law also created the Nevada “harvester,” an unidentified person (political operative, homeless person, drug addict, anyone) who would collect ballots from as many voters as possible. There was no ballot limit, and the harvester’s identity did not have to be revealed. Harvesters were very motivated because they were generally paid “by the piece.” The more ballots acquired (from voters, from mailboxes, or from trash cans), the more money they made. The harvesters would put the collected ballots in unmonitored drop boxes, or they would mail them to the county. Here is the part Laxalt would find interesting: In Nevada, ballots received during the three days after an election are counted — even if they have no legible postmark. That might be why the reporting of results took so long in Nevada. Were political operatives collecting ballots (harvested post-election) and figuring out how many were needed to defeat Laxalt? I don’t know, but I had emphatically told my wife, weeks before the election, that Laxalt would almost certainly lose Nevada — even if he initially seemed to be winning. After considering Nevada’s 2020 legal changes, I started to remember other strange matters from the 2020 election. Would similar issues be seen in the current election? Trump’s attorneys claimed that 3,987 voters were probably not citizens when they voted. Months after the 2020 election, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske admitted that the number of non-citizen voters was at least that high (more than 4,000), and possibly much higher than that (p. 3). Her estimate of 4,000 was narrowly limited to non-citizen voters who self-identified as such. Was the real number 10,000? 20,000? Who knows? I remembered the claim that more than 15,000 Nevada votes came from people with out-of-state addresses. Unfortunately, Cegavske refused to look into it. She claimed that there could be valid reasons for the non-Nevada addresses, and the “request to verify the Nevada residency of more than 15,000 individuals is unreasonable” (p. 12) Cegavske also acknowledged that 18,314 people may have voted twice, but she also said it was unlikely, so “these additional 18,314 allegations did not warrant further investigation” (p. 6) Cegavske did not dispute that Native Americans were apparently buying the votes of Nevadans by offering gift cards, gasoline cards, beadwork and raffle prizes: There was irrefutable evidence. However, the secretary said it was not her job to investigate (p. 3). By the way, the Native Americans were working with the Biden campaign, according to their promotional materials. Finally, I recalled that 31,643 Nevada voters had identifying information that did not match the corresponding information in the Department of Motor Vehicles. For example, names, addresses, birth dates and/or license numbers did not match. Whistleblowers claimed that these voters were told they could use out-of-state driver’s license information instead of Nevada information (clearly illegal). However, the whistleblower allegations were never checked because they came in the form of sworn declarations rather than sworn depositions — a fine legal argument that Perry Mason would have been proud to make. On the basis of that bit of legalese, the secretary of state decided that the 31,643 mismatched voters did “not merit further investigation” (p. 11). Well, that is my sad story, and now you know why I was triggered by Laxalt’s slow march to defeat. For me, severe election denial sickness has returned. By the way, I did write the book, and it is called “Debunked,” as I originally planned. However, there is now a prominent question mark after the title. The book includes an entire chapter devoted to Nevada, and there are chapters pertaining to several other swing states. Recommendations are included. However, election denial disease is serious: Read the book at your own risk. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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