Dems Offer More Evidence of Sketchy GOP Poll Watcher Activity In Nevada

Bill Clark/CQPHO

Democrats put forward more evidence on Wednesday that they said showed that the Republican National Committee was illegally engaging in poll watching activities.

The additional filing comes after an initial round of affidavits from Dem poll observers in Nevada who said they met other observers claiming to be working for the RNC earlier this week.

The new filing includes the affidavits of three more Democratic poll observers who have been monitoring early voting sites in Las Vegas. They said that not only did they meet poll observers who suggested RNC involvement in elections monitoring, but that one of the GOP observers gave inaccurate information to voters, according to the court documents.

The affidavits were filed in an ongoing case concerning allegations by the Democratic National Committee that the RNC had violated a decades-old consent decree limiting its ability to participate in so-called “ballot security” activities. The RNC has maintained that it has followed the decree, and filed its own court documents Wednesday that said it could find no evidence of any RNC agreements with the Donald Trump campaign to assist in Trump’s poll watcher crusade.

One of the affidavits filed by the Democrats Wednesday said that a Dem poll observer was told by another poll observer in Las Vegas that she was with the Trump campaign but that the RNC was actually running the program.

That affidavit was given by a Democratic observer name Irasema Garza, who said she met another observer named Brenda at an early voting site at a library in Las Vegas. Brenda told Garza she was with the Trump campaign, but that “it’s the RNC who is really running this program,” according to the affidavit. The affidavit also included a screenshot of a text message from Garza to her poll observer supervisor describing the encounter.

Another affidavit was given by a Democratic poll observer named Melissa Alessi, who was monitoring an early voting site at an Albertson’s grocery story. She said that she met a Republican poll observer named Onita. (One of the Dem affidavits filed earlier this week also recounted meeting a GOP poll observer named “Onita Petersen”). According to the affidavit, Onita told Alessi she was monitoring on behalf of Nevada Grassroots, which has been described in a separate Democratic lawsuit as “a political organization affiliated with the Republican Party.”

Alessi described an incident in which a voter sought to vote by a paper ballot. The elections worker at the site repeated information that appeared to have been told to her by Onita suggesting that the voter could do so if he went to the county building, the court doc said. According to the affidavit, the elections official eventually convinced the voter to vote using the voting machine at the site, but later called the registrar of elections and found out that the voter would not have been able to immediately vote by a paper ballot at the county office, contrary to what Onita had said.

The affidavit also described another incident, in which Alessi’s co-observer saw Onita telling a voter he would not be able to vote at the early voting site because it wasn’t in his assigned precinct. The co-observer had to intervene and tell the voter that he could in fact vote there, according to the affidavit.

The co-observer, it appears, was a Democratic poll worker named Helen Lauderdale, who provided her own affidavit filed by the DNC Wednesday. Lauderdale said she had met a poll observer named Onita Petersen and described the incident with the voter concerned about the voting site being out of is precinct. Lauderdale also said that on a separate occasion, Onita told another voter that to vote, he would need either an ID or a paper ballot (which Lauderdale interpreted to mean the sample ballot sent to voters). Lauderdale jumped in to correct what she said was the inaccurate information Onita had given the voter, the affidavit said.

Read the filing below: