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Judge dismisses Trump campaign’s challenge to Nevada mail voting law

Election workers process mail-in ballots June 9 during a nearly all-mail primary election in Las Vegas.
Election workers process mail-in ballots June 9 during a nearly all-mail primary election in Las Vegas.
(John Locher/Associated Press)

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from President Trump’s reelection campaign challenging Nevada’s new vote-by-mail law, saying the campaign failed to show how it could be harmed by the law.

The campaign, which has filed lawsuits in several states over voting rules, had asked the judge to block a new Nevada law that calls for mail-in ballots to automatically be sent to all active Nevada voters, a change prompted by efforts to contain the coronavirus.

The campaign has claimed the law passed by the Democrat-led state Legislature is unconstitutional, removes election safeguards and would allow people to cast votes after election day.

U.S. Judge James C. Mahan, in a ruling Friday, dismissed the case. He said the Trump campaign and Republicans made allegations that were policy disagreements but did not show any constitutional harms. He said Trump’s campaign asked the court to rule in the case to clear “confusion” over the new law, but noted that it did not ask for any injunction to temporarily block the law or any speedy court proceedings, leaving the case poised for a last-minute decision before the election.

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Ballots are expected to start going out in the mail in early October.

“I said from the beginning that President Trump and the Republican Party didn’t have a leg to stand on, and I’m pleased that the court agrees. Their allegations of fraud are speculative at best,” Nevada Atty. Gen. Aaron Ford said.

Messages left with the Nevada secretary of state, Trump’s reelection campaign and lawyers for the campaign were not immediately returned.

Trump himself has falsely claimed mail-in voting is rife with fraud, which elections experts say is rare. He’s also repeatedly made incorrect claims about Nevada’s voting law, falsely saying the state does not verify voter signatures on ballots.

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COVID-19 has led to a push for vote by mail, but advocates face logistical and legal hurdles — and “rigged election” claims from President Trump.

Trump’s campaign initially sought to block Nevada’s entire law, arguing it would undermine the election’s integrity and would treat rural voters differently from urban voters because it stipulated a higher minimum number of in-person polling places in urban areas than rural areas.

The campaign later narrowed its challenge, focusing on part of the new law that Republicans argued would allow people to cast votes by mail one or two days after the election and have their votes counted, even without a postmark.

The U.S. Postal Service as a policy says ballots are postmarked in every state.

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While the judge dismissed the case on a legal procedural ground, in his ruling he referred to the underlying arguments several times as too “speculative” and “generalized.”

These states will probably decide if Joe Biden or President Trump wins the election. And their absentee ballot laws could determine when we find out.


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