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Single Nevada case shows futility of Trump effort to reverse election result

Former Nevada Atty. Gen. Adam Laxalt speaks outside the Clark County Election Department last week.
Former Nevada Atty. Gen. Adam Laxalt speaks outside the Clark County Election Department last week.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

President Trump’s allies have been scouring the country for voter fraud in hopes of invalidating President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and they’ve unleashed a flood of unsubstantiated and untrue allegations.

Among the claims: A van dropped off fake ballots at an election office in Nevada. Election observers were barred from watching votes being counted in Michigan. Late ballots were improperly counted in Georgia. All of these stories are either unproven or false.

But it looks like Republicans might have found one possible case of fraud — one ballot — in Nevada and even that remains unproven. By comparison, Biden leads Trump by more than 36,000 votes in the state and nearly 5 million nationally.

The allegation comes from a news conference in Las Vegas on Sunday, where Republicans claimed to have “thousands of examples of voter irregularities.”

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“Dead people voted in Clark County,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union. He named two people who died three years ago, “but miraculously they both voted.”

Clark County confirmed that ballots were cast in both of the deceased voters’ names, and are being investigated. In one case, it appears that the ballot was signed by the dead person’s daughter, who did not cast her own ballot. If that’s true, it appears to be a mix-up rather than intentional fraud.

However, in the other case, the handwriting and signature on the ballot matches the county’s records on the dead person. It’s unclear whether the ballot was cast for Trump or Biden.

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“We expect the investigations will determine whether criminal charges are appropriate in either case,” said Dan Kulin, a spokesman for Clark County.

Justin Levitt, a voting expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said voter fraud is rare but a stray case is not uncommon in elections. “You get a misguided family member once in a blue moon doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and most of the rest of the frenzied, wildly inflated claims of thousands of ballots evaporate,” he said.

In an earlier study, Levitt found 31 credible allegations of fraud out of more than 1 billion ballots cast from 2000 through 2014.

Nevada is one of several states that mailed ballots to every active voter this year to make participating in the election safer than voting in crowded polling places during a deadly pandemic. Kulin said Clark County tries to keep its voter rolls up to date with information on deaths, but election officials around the country occasionally struggle with old registrations.

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The lack of widespread fraud hasn’t stopped Trump from trying to undermine faith in the country’s democracy or to insist that he didn’t lose. “WE ARE MAKING BIG PROGRESS,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “RESULTS START TO COME IN NEXT WEEK. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”


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