(Chuck Muth) – As reported in Tuesday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, lawyers for the Republican National Committee (RNC) sent a letter to Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar threatening to sue over claims that the SOS isn’t cleaning the state’s voter lists.
This is not helpful. Nor, as someone who has been working intently on this issue for the past year via our Pigpen Project, do their allegations hold any water. Let’s start with this…
The lawyers allege that the SOS is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for failing make “a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.”
The RNC, along with the Nevada GOP and some guy named Scott Johnston, who I’ve never heard of, threaten to “bring a lawsuit” against the SOS and various Nevada counties, mostly Republican, “if you fail to take specific actions to correct these violations.”
Apparently, the fact that the SOS has already removed – using the National Change of Address (NCOA) process – almost 100,000 ineligible voters from the active voter lists this year alone doesn’t constitute a “reasonable effort” in the minds of the RNC crew.
And they’re likely to lose this argument because a 2019 appeal decision by the United States District Court in Florida determined that…
“The National Voter Registration Act requires the states – and as delegated by Florida, the counties – to employ a general program of list maintenance that makes a reasonable effort to remove voters who become ineligible because of death or change of address.
“The statute provides one method — the National Change of Address Process — by which states may fulfill their obligations regarding change of address. The district court found that (Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda) Snipes availed herself of this safe harbor.”
So the Nevada Secretary of State, along with Nevada’s various counties, who regularly do similar list maintenance, ARE in compliance with the “reasonable effort” requirement mandated by law.
And I can tell you from first-hand experience that the SOS office, and particularly the Clark County Registrar of Voters (ROV), have been nothing but helpful and cooperative with our independent efforts to remove ineligible voters that we’ve identified who weren’t picked up from the NVRA postcards that are regularly mailed out.
The RNC lawyers base their claims on an “analysis” of Census Bureau and voter registration data. Their “evidence” is that in some counties the number of registered voters exceeds the Census Bureau’s adult population estimates in excess of the average in other states.
But the RNC is using “fuzzy math” to level its allegations.
Dan Burdish, data analyst for our Pigpen Project to clean up the voter rolls, points out that the RNC lawyers “are basing their analysis on the Voting Age Population (VAP) from February 2021 and Registered Voters from November 2023.”
Burdish further notes that “Nevada is still one of the fastest growing states in the country.” As such, cleaning and maintaining voter lists in Nevada is immeasurably harder than in other states.
In addition, Burdish points out that “the RNC is working on ESTIMATES for the Voting Age Population and hard numbers for the registration.” At the very least, apples to oranges, in addition to not acknowledging a variety of reasons why this might be.
Indeed, flaws in the NVRA law hamstrings election officials from more aggressively cleaning up the voter files. I’ll give you an example…
A few years ago, a friend of my daughters moved in with us for the summer. She turned 18 during that time, registered to vote, and then moved without changing her voter registration – which happens ALL the time when people move.
We kept getting her ballots but, like most people, didn’t return them to the post office. We just threw them away after the election. As such, even though she no longer lived here and moved out-of-state, there was no way for the election department to know that.
So while her move reduced the state’s population by one, the registration list remained the same because, absent returned mail from the post office, there’s no way for election officials to remove her from the voter rolls on their own even if they suspect she was no longer eligible due to moving.
That’s not a failure by election officials. That’s a flaw in the law.
When I brought this up with the RNC today, Stephen Kenny, Senior Counsel for the Republican National Committee, replied…
“Our letter is premised on the fact that courts have recognized that similarly high registration percentages compared to the population is evidence of a NVRA violation.”
But in talking with other attorneys who have spent YEARS working on this issue, that’s not true. In fact, lawyers who tried to make this case on similar grounds in the past abandoned the argument long ago.
That dog just won’t hunt.
At the Pigpen Project, we’ve found a way to identify voters who fall through the cracks because election officials can’t remove them without getting returned mail from the post office.
Our volunteers then go door-to-door and ask the current resident to sign an official “non-residency” report for any voters who no longer live at that address. That’s ACTUAL evidence, not conjecture based on statistical analysis.
Over the past couple of months, our volunteers have successfully obtained hundreds of signed non-residency reports. And the Clark County ROV has been removing such ineligible voters from the active voter file after confirming our reports.
That’s hundreds of ineligible voters who will no longer automatically have mail-in ballots sent to their former home next year – in addition to the almost 100,000 the SOS has already removed this year.
How many have the RNC, the Nevada GOP, and Scott Johnston gotten removed?
The election officials we’ve been working with have been extremely helpful and professional in making sure we know the correct procedures for doing this work within the confines of the NVRA law.
Threatening to sue the very people who are doing their jobs according to the law and have been working with us to further clean up the voter rolls in Nevada is the exact opposite of “helpful” – especially when all they have are suspicions, not actual evidence.
The RNC’s threat will accomplish nothing but further alienate the election officials we’re successfully working with and undermine our efforts. It will also enflame – without evidence – the “election fraud” narrative which inevitably leads many to just stay home rather than cast a ballot.
The best thing the RNC can do in this regard is to PLEASE stop “helping.”
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.